back to article Apple, EMC, and Oracle in Novell patent play

The holding company that acquired 882 Novell patent last month is a front not only for Microsoft but also Apple, EMC, and Oracle. To get its $2.2bn acquisition of Novell done, Attachmate is selling off $450m in Novell patents to CPTN Holdings. We knew that Microsoft was the company's main backer, and now, the German …


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  1. famousringo
    Thumb Up

    Curious development

    This seems like an interesting solution on the part of real tech companies to the problem of patent trolls. Everybody buys in, everybody gets a license to all the patents, nobody faces a lawsuit ten years down the line after they've made billions on a hit product.

    And by 'everybody' I of course mean just those in the consortium. Everybody else gets a big, fat barrier to entry. Still, I'd rather see companies which make real products get a deep moat around their turf than see the money go to patent squatters who produce nothing but legal bills.

    1. Rebajas

      Err no.

      Although I don't want patent squatters to benefit from anything, anywhere, I would like to see technology move around more. If the cost of entry on patents is too high for smaller players then I think we'll see innovations stifled.

      I guess we'll just have to see what patents were exchanged and what is done with them in the long term.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Odd though

      Odd though, because Apple have shown themselves not open to the idea of patent sharing, what with the lawsuit of & from Nokia.

      I wonder if there are a few key patents to do with something like file sharing, which are required by all companies listed:

      MS Need SMB/CIFS file sharing because the seamless file sharing is one of the main selling points for Windows.

      Apple need OSX to have interoperabillity with Windows (and NAS devices) to at least some degree this is mainly achieved by file sharing.

      EMC make Celera NAS devices, which mainly share files to Windows based systems.

      With the above examples, you could replace file sharing with authentication or other directory services.

      Just a thought.

      1. Francis Vaughan

        All about clubs

        "because Apple have shown themselves not open to the idea of patent sharing, what with the lawsuit of & from Nokia."

        Actually it is the opposite. Apple are demanding entry into the mobile patent sharing club, but are considered latecomers by Nokia and irs mates. The price of entry to any patent sharing club is more useful patents. So Apple are trying to prove to Nokia that they have important and useful patents to share. You prove this in court. If Apple's legal action goes their way, expect to see the action dropped after Apple is given membership to Nokia's club.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not entirely true...

        "Odd though, because Apple have shown themselves not open to the idea of patent sharing, what with the lawsuit of & from Nokia." Not really. I'm pretty sure that Nokia have demanded higher fee's from Apple than from anyone else for the technology as well as a patent share. This isn't on, however you choose to look at it.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    All i see here...

    Is a threat. Either to open source, or to other major players (cue Google). All we really need now is higher entry barriers for new software makers.

    1. kissingthecarpet

      Got to agree

      Who knows who's going to get their bollocks in a vice now? not the members of consortium - hey, they could call themselves "The Four horsemen" or something equally sinister. Software patents just seem like a good way to hasten the Apocalypse, immanentize the eschaton or something along those lines

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Axis of evil ? Actually three of the four

    have a common goal : killing the pesky Android, this has become urgent.

    Too bad we don't have a Larry, Bill and Steve icon so the one with only Steve Jobs on it should do for the moment.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This is a title

        I think he meant a single icon with Larry, Bill and Steve on it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Okay, but what do EMC or Oracle care about Android? It's no threat to them at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No threat...

      Wait... what do Android phones run apps in VERY HEAVILY?

      That's right... Java. Oracle OWNS Java, and apparently doing its best to kill it.

      As for EMC, I got nothing.

      1. Michael C

        not about phones

        it's about basic OS functions, and for EMC especialyl file system management and networking.

        the people at novel were geniuses, and invented some of the best stuff in the OS world, stuff that STILL has yet to be outdone. they just could not market their way out of a paper bag, and they died.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That should have been a reply to the AC above...


    3. Michael C


      But Novel patented a metric f*ton of stuff in the early OS design days, things even Microsoft has had to work around, not to mention file system patents, basic networking stuff, and a slew of hardware patents. Mobile stuff? virtually none.

      No, this isn't so much about anti-Google, this is about moving their own desktop OS and Server OS platforms forward. Google isn't even the slightest player in markets for these patents.

      Now, the Nortel sale of patents in process: THAT is all about communications.... I am HIGHLY interested in seeing what apple plans to do with access to the mother-load of VoIP, IP Phone, SIP, communication servers, VRU systems, and other patents. With Apple's existing portfolio merged with much of Nortel's, they could become a major force in the corporate/enterprise communication world.

  5. Neal 5

    I don't see this as

    a method for stifling innovation, that will always happen regardless, this is more a method of extending the method of cash extraction from big players in particular,maybe RHEL. Also, this is possibly a method for pushing a software patent agenda in Europe and elsewhere. The threat is going to be licensed Linux/Unix or licensed Apple/Microsoft,(in which case it's Google who'll be hit ,Android). So the choice will be PAY only, and thats why Attachmate/Novell will keep the Linux patent, Microsoft won't need it, Novell are tied to Microsoft through cross licensing agreements whatever, and Attachmate even with it's three private equity backers can't afford to cross even Microsoft, let alone the other three, there would be only direction for them to take if they did. I don't see three PriEq firms backing a suicidal venture at their own expense.

  6. Eddy Ito

    Only one real option

    Given the players, most of the patents fairly have to be of the storage and file system variety. If I had to play specifics I'd say the important group of patents pertains to database and file system performance on "the cloud". There has to have something in it for each of them be it virtualization, serving up mobile ads, search functionality, distributed database, and SaaS type stuff. Something that lets Apple and MS get a leg up on the GOOG, Oracle gets to one up SAP and EMC gets to float jabs at HP and IBM. Did anybody ever say the patents had been approved? Ooh, look there's some potentially interesting applications now, 20100287140 and 20100228853 for starters.

  7. JaitcH

    It's the American way of doing business - duplicity, cheating & shaft the shareholders

    Today's U.S. business news is filled with the arrest of another 4 outstanding U.S. business men - free link: < > (and on the lower LH corner). This Novell deal is just as deceitful.

    The fact MS and Apple are sleeping together on this deal reveals so much more about their true relationships than do stories about litigation between them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whoever wrote this needs an appointment with the clue bat

    Quote: "It is hard to imagine Microsoft, Apple, EMC, and Oracle cooperating on much"

    First, second and third is more or less the "Kill Google" club united under the banner of "Android must die".

    As far as EMC it may not want/need to do that now, but it definitely sees a future where GFS(2,3,4...N) is available as a service to customers and they buy much less of their storage gear. Ditto for customers running apps on Google's cloud platform which is surprise, surprise the _ONLY_ platform which is a true cloud - app stack based (python), not VM based. So it is the only platform from which no revenue will be forthcoming either as direct Vmware or as potential Vmware patent cross licensing. So EMC is not out of place here either.

    The more interesting question here is what exactly OFT and FTC are doing on this one and why do we have to learn this from their German counterparts.

    As far as "cooperating much" that is exactly what and how they cooperate and have cooperated historically all the way to that day when Scott "How to Use OpenSource" McNealy gave SCO some pocket money to continue spoiling IBM (and everyone's else) digestion and further back before that.

  9. Goat Jam
    Paris Hilton

    Perhaps I am Mr Thicky McThicky


    "And(sic) if the patents are valuable, Microsoft and its holding company partners could recovery(sic) a big chunk of the money, perhaps licensing patents to IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and others"

    Now, clearly am not an esteemed patent lawyer nor a power suit wearing tech CEO but if Novell was;

    a) going broke


    b) holding "valuable patents" that could be used to extort "a big chunk of money"

    Then why did they not do so?

    Why does it take a bunch of neer-do-wells like MS, Oracle and Apple to monetise said patents?

    Oh, I think I just answered my own question.

    Carry on.

    1. Michael C

      but, look at novel

      Those people were genius, but they had the marketing skills of a 5 year old with a lemon-aid stand. Novel had the technology to own the computing world, they just had no clue how to make people SEE that. It was really a no-brainer in the 3.x 4.x days, novel WAS the best, but they dropped the ball on desktops, and government bidding, and MS won.

      novel has basic OS level patents that are still very much in effect today. It was pretty much tier ONLY income. Put those patents in Apple or Microsoft's hands, people that know how to develop products people want, and it can only make money.

      Actually though, most of these patents will allow kernel level changes to the OS, file systems, could communication, networking, and more. novel was sitting on good tech they could not afford to build systems for, but also could not afford to share or quicken their demise. It was loose-loose for them and win-win for everyone else.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        True that

        I concur with your assessment, Novell has the worst marketing department I have ever seen in all my years in the industry.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      You can't be a patent troll

      as long as you are still in software business. Even Microsoft has been pretty shy so far when it comes about patent trolling, they are using their patents just to kneecap their competitors and not to extract serious revenue from them. If you attack other companies with patents, they might find something to hit back at you, especially if they are heavy guns like IBM or HP (look at the dog fight currently in place between Apple, Nokia, Motorola and others in the mobile industry). If you look at what real successfully non-practicing entities how patent trolls title themselves, you'll notice they just buy and enforce patents but they do not offer any product or service based on them.

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