Feeds

Novell's Microsoft patent sale referred to regulators

Open sourcers fear patent attacks

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Open sourcers have asked German authorities to probe a Microsoft-backed purchase of hundreds of patents owned by Novell as part of that company's purchase by Attachmate.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has written to the German Federal Cartel Office saying that the purchase of 882 patents for $450m by never-heard-of-before CPTN Holdings "represents a potentially new, and unprecedented threat against open source software."

The patents are being unloaded as part of Novell's acquisition by Attachmate. Little is known of CPTN other than that it's led by Microsoft and its members include Apple, Oracle, and EMC.

OSI president Michael Tiemann blogged over the Christmas holiday that his group was moved to act once it learned that Microsoft had recruited the other three to join CPTN.

The Cartel Office is Germany's national competition regulator. It has fined Microsoft millions of dollars over anticompetitive pricing of Office in past years. The Office was open to comments on the Novell transaction.

According to the OSI, the formation of CPTN "represents a MAJOR disruption to the competitive landscape." It claims that the principle members see Linux and open source as "major" threats to their businesses and had made hostile statements towards open source.

In his blog posting announcing the OSI request to the German authorities, Tiemann wrote: "The fact that Microsoft was leading the takeover of Novell's patents was itself alarming to the open source community, but when it was revealed that Microsoft had recruited Oracle, Apple, and EMC to be co-owners of the patents, the OSI Board felt compelled to request that competition authorities take a closer look at the proposed transaction."

In its statement to the Cartel Office (PDF), the OSI wrote: "Whereas Novell was sincere in promoting and participating in open source software development and had an incentive to maintain their patent assets as a defensive portfolio, CPTN has all the motives and opportunity to do the opposite.

"That is, they have no incentive to support open source as a competitive alternative to proprietary software. CPTN creates a cover to launch patent attacks against open source while creating for each principal a measure of plausible deniability that the patent attack was not their idea."

Novell's sale to Attachmate and the unloading of the 882 patents was announced in November of last year. At the time, it was known only that Microsoft was leading CPTN, and such was the outcry given Novell's status as the owner of Unix that Novell was forced to issue a statement saying it would continue to own the Unix copyrights following completion of the Attachmate deal.

While that might have caused a sigh of relief, it still remains unclear what patents exactly are being sold to CPTN.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
Was ist das? Eine neue Suse Linux Enterprise? Ausgezeichnet!
Version 12 first major-number Suse release since 2009
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.