Feeds

Novell's Microsoft patent sale referred to regulators

Open sourcers fear patent attacks

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.