New developments in Novell patent case
A consortium made up of Apple, EMC, Microsoft and Oracle which planned to purchase 882 Novell patents, following Novell's takeover by Attachmate, has altered its strategy in order to defuse anti-trust concerns. According to the Open Source Initiative (OSI), the consortium will only exist for a further three months with the aim of dividing the Novell patents up between its members. All four members will be granted licenses for all of the patents. Microsoft is reported to have undertaken to sell its patents back to Attachmate and retain only the right to use the technologies protected by the patents. Similarly, VMware parent EMC is reported to have agreed not to acquire any of the patents relating to virtualisation.
The OSI cites Germany's Federal Cartel Office (FCO) as the source of its information. Back in January, the Open Source Initiative wrote to the FCO stating that the establishment of the CPTN consortium represented a major shift in market conditions in the operating system, middleware and virtualisation markets. The OSI feared that CPTN could use the patent portfolio as a stick with which to beat the open source community. The consortium initially withdrew its application for approval by the Federal Cartel Office.
Since 23 March, however, CPTN has been back on the list of ongoing merger inquiries. The OSI reports that the FCO has asked for a further statement from it on the new merger conditions. It remains concerned that the patents could be used aggressively against open source software which is in competition with Apple, EMC, Microsoft or Oracle products.