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DOJ limits Microsoft's purchase of Novell patents

Grant Gross, IDG News Service | April 20, 2011
Microsoft will not be able to keep patents it proposed to buy from Novell under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Under the agreement with the DOJ, EMC will not acquire 33 Novell patents and patent applications that have been identified as related to virtualization software.

In addition, all of the Novell patents will be subject to the GNU General Public License, Version 2 and the Open Invention Network (OIN) License, a significant license in Linux, the DOJ said. CPTN will not have the right to limit which of the patents are available under the OIN license, and CPTN and its owners will be prohibited from encouraging Novell or Attachmate to modify which patents are available under the OIN license, the DOJ said.

The deal with the DOJ has been in the works for weeks, said Florian Mueller, an open-source advocate and blogger. While some in the open-source community were unhappy with the agreement, Mueller downplayed the impact of the patent sale.

"The Novell patent deal got a lot of attention but in the greater scheme of things even the original deal wouldn't have had huge impact on the competitive landscape," Mueller said. "There are countless software patents out there one way or the other."

The agreement with the DOJ appears to show that Microsoft was most concerned about getting licenses to the Novell patents, and not in owning them, Mueller added. "Considering that Microsoft files thousands of patent applications every year, they don't need to acquire a couple hundred Novell patents to beef up their portfolio," he said.


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