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Details emerge of patents Novell is selling to Microsoft

Chris Kanaracus | Jan. 18, 2011
Additional details have emerged regarding the more than 800 patents Novell is selling to the Microsoft-led consortium CPTN Holdings for $450 million, about two months after the deal was first announced.

FRAMINGHAM 18 JANUARY 2011 - Additional details have emerged regarding the more than 800 patents Novell is selling to the Microsoft-led consortium CPTN Holdings for $450 million, about two months after the deal was first announced.

"The issued patents and patent applications to be sold to CPTN ... relate primarily to enterprise-level computer systems management software, enterprise-level file management and collaboration software in addition to patents relevant to our identity and security management business, although it is possible that certain of such issued patents and patent applications read on a range of different software products," Novell said in a filing to the US Securities & Exchange Commission on Jan. 14.

"Historically, the issued patents and patent applications included in the patent sale have been used to facilitate and protect our current and planned business activities, and to reduce the risk of potential infringement claims against us," Novell added. The company does not currently license any of them for royalties, but they are "subject to specific non-royalty bearing licenses granted by Novell during the period of its ownership of the patents."

Novell announced in November it would be acquired by Attachmate, ending months of speculation over its future. It concurrently announced the patent sale, which prompted a new round of guessing over what was being purchased. It also subsequently came to light that Apple, Oracle and EMC are involved with CPTN as well.

While Novell has stated that Attachmate would retain control of its prized Unix operating system copyrights, further details of what is being sold have not been made public until now.

Novell's Jan. 14 filing only generally refers to the technologies involved with the patent sale, but some possible connections can be made.

The reference to "enterprise-level computer systems management software" could be aimed at Novell's PlateSpin family of data center workload management tools. Novell sells a File Management Suite as well as the GroupWise collaboration platform and a range of identity management software.

Roughly 43% of the intellectual property consists of U.S.-issued patents. Another 30% is U.S. patent applications, some 22% is patents issued in foreign countries, and another 5% is foreign patent applications, according to the filing.

Originally, CPTN was to purchase 882 patents from Novell. While preparing to close the deal, Novell discovered that "19 of the patents to be sold to CPTN pursuant to the Patent Purchase Agreement are lapsed Australian, German or Austrian patent applications rather than issued Australian, German or Austrian patents." Novell also found that one of the issued patents was referenced twice, it adds.

 

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