updated 03:50 pm EST, Mon November 22, 2010
Attachmate buys Novell with Microsoft help
Attachmate today bought Novell in a deal that has triggered worries of renewed lawsuits and legal pressure from Microsoft. The share-based purchase, equivalent to about $2.2 billion, had only Attachmate acquiring the SuSE Linux owner directly, but Microsoft in an SEC 8K filing saw 882 patents transfer to CPTN Holdings, a patent holding alliance Microsoft runs. The Windows developer was "pleased" with the deal, but Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez wouldn't say which patents had been acquired or explain motives.
Linux users and developers have already raised concerns as Microsoft has relied on claimed patent ownership to both silence legal challenges and to try and halt competition from Linux. Although Microsoft has never had its patent ownership formally disputed in court, it reached a cross-licensing deal with Novell in 2006 that, combined with existing patents, has been used to either sue or force royalties from multiple firms that either develop or use Linux. Novell's appeal against a loss in a WordPerfect case may also come to an end.
The patent terms used for Linux have this year been swung into action against Android as well, as Microsoft has both struck a secret deal with HTC and sued Motorola, with other firms likely to be target soon. Microsoft claims all Android makers must pay but has so far dictated its response based on the size of the company as well as its willingness to sell Windows Phone 7; HTC is a key WP7 launch partner, while Motorola has so far kept its focus on Android.
Despite the shift, Novell's iPhone development support shouldn't be affected as MonoTouch should remain in place with Attachmate as the owner. The acquiring company may be focusing primarily on Novell's Platespin datacenter and virtualization technology. [via ZDNet]