Microsoft-led CPTN bid for Novell FLOSS patents is on/off/on

Novell's patent threat to Linux and other open source software: some bloggers thought that CPTN was no more, but that was naive.

By Richi Jennings. January 12, 2011.

CPTN Holdings' plan to purchase the Novell open source patent portfolio has been withdrawn. At least, that's what some breathless reporting would have you believe. The consortium of Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle has certainly withdrawn something, but does it really mean that FLOSS is safe? In IT Blogwatch, bloggers get to the truth of the matter.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention Chris Ollis's appalling Star Wars pun...


Jennifer Baker brings good news for open-source fans:

A filing in Germany to create a consortium ... to buy Novell patents has been withdrawn. Early in December Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle notified the ... regulator that they planned to form CPTN Holdings with a view to purchasing 882 of Novell's patents. ... Novell is being bought by Attachmate, but the separate sale of Novell's patent portfolio to CPTN for $450 million was already agreed.


CPTN may have withdrawn the filing in order to make tweaks that would help it pass muster with European regulators and ease critics' concerns. ...  the German Federal Cartel Office has received letters ... from various open-source organizations including the U.S.-based Open Source Initiative (OSI) and the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) ... [which] are extremely alarmed that patents with claims on some elements of open-source software could fall into the hands of companies that compete with that open-source software.

Maureen O'Gara disguises her distrust of open-sourcerers:

That scare-the-open-source-community-to-death Microsoft-Apple-Oracle-EMC consortium ... withdrew its registration with the German antitrust authorities on December 30 according to an amended notice on the Bundeskartellamt's web site.


It may just be happenstance that the Microsoft-organized consortium ... pulled back the papers seeking regulator approval right after the Open Source Initiative (OSI) complained asking the authorities to investigate.

But Brian Proffitt nixes the idea that the consortium's dead:

[It] left many hoping if this was a sign of the end of a patent deal that has sent shock waves through the open source community. This was not what happened. ... CPTN Holdings ... is still in existence in the United States, calling into question speculation that the patent deal ... is itself finished.


While the news was enough to work the open source community into a dither today, there was little reason to think that the companies involved in the consortium would withdraw their bid. ... It was a solid fake-out.

And Todd Bishop talked to his Microsoft neighbors:

False alarm. ... “This is a purely procedural step necessary to provide time to allow for review of the proposed transaction,” a Microsoft representative said.


It looks like any celebrations are premature, and the deal is still on.

  Dio Gratia and Carlo Piana know the score:

[The] Novell Revised Proxy Statement filed with the SEC a week or so ago ... reads: "The parties to the merger originally filed ... on December 1, 2010 and the initial 30-day waiting period would have expired on December 31. ... In order to provide the DOJ with additional time to review the information ... Attachmate is voluntarily withdrawing its HSR Act notification form ... and intends to re-file. ... The effect of this re-filing will also be to extend the waiting period."


Presumably the withdrawal in Germany is similar. So now we know and we can all breathe again normally.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols claims to have been wise before the event:

I knew the story couldn’t be right. ... Just because CPTN has withdrawn a filing to the Office didn’t mean that CPTN was giving up on the deal. Far from it. ... Neither Microsoft, nor its CPTN allies, is walking from this deal. ... No mere protests from open-source groups are going to frighten [them] away.

Meanwhile, Alex Wilhelm scoffs at the speculation:

The people who wish to claim that Microsoft pulled the file merely to avoid bad press ... don’t fully understand the competitive nature of Microsoft.

And Finally...

Chris Ollis brings us this appalling Star Wars pun

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon