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Novell’s patents bought by Microsoft, Apple, EMC, & Oracle


When CPTN Holdings appeared out of the blue to snap up Novell’s patent portfolio, the only thing anyone knew about them was that Microsoft was behind the group and that’s all Microsoft had to say about its Novell intellectual property (IP) purchase. Now, thanks to Germany’s anti-trust body, the Bundeskartellamt, we know that Microsoft’s CPTN Holdings partners were Apple, EMC, and Oracle.

As my buddy Mary Jo Foley pointed out, this means that “CPTN Holdings isn’t just a front for Microsoft.” It’s easy, of course, to see why Microsoft would want Novell’s IP. While we don’t exactly what patents came with this deal, we do know that Novell owns significant networking, directory, virtualization and data center patents.

Still it’s hard to see exactly why this quartet of companies would work together on this IP purchase. As Florian Muller, who first revealed CPTN’s members in his FOSS Patents blog wrote, “I don’t know much about EMC other than that it’s a very significant company. I do know that Apple and Oracle are clearly companies who have different approaches to some important issues than Microsoft. Within the consortium, the four players will have to agree on a common denominator concerning the patents to be acquired. They’ve apparently been able to agree that those patents are valuable assets to own.”

I do know EMC. Ironically, EMC is VMware’s parent company. You know the other company that wanted to buy Novell. EMC and VMware both have deep interests in virtualization and the data center. Apple is the company that I don’t see fitting into the CPTN partnership.

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