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The Associated Press April 20, 2011, 4:57PM ET

Novell changes patent sale terms to appease DOJ

The Department of Justice said Wednesday that to assuage antitrust concerns Novell Inc. and CPTN Holdings LLC are changing the terms of Novell's planned $450 million sale of hundreds of patents and applications to CPTN.

The DOJ said the original deal would have jeopardized the ability of open-source software, such as Linux, to continue to compete in developing and distributing server, desktop and mobile operating systems.

Novell, a computer networking software maker that is being bought by privately held business software company Attachmate Corp., previously disclosed that the Justice Department wanted further information regarding the patent sale. Novell's sale to Seattle-based Attachmate hinges on it being able to complete the sale of the patents to CPTN, a consortium of technology companies that includes Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp, Apple Inc. and EMC Corp.

The Justice Department said CPTN has altered the patent deal in a number of ways. Microsoft will sell back to Attachmate all of the patents that it would have received. But it will keep a license to use those patents as well as the patents that the other companies are purchasing and any patents that Novell keeps. EMC will not receive 33 Novell patents and applications that are related to visualization software.

In addition, all of the Novell patents included in the CPTN deal will be subject to open-source licenses for the GNU and Linux operating systems. CPTN won't have the right to limit which patents are available under the Linux license and neither CPTN nor its owners will attempt to influence or encourage Waltham, Mass.-based Novell or Attachmate to change which patents are available under the Linux license.

The changes will allow the companies to move forward with the deal, but the Justice Department said it will keep investigating the distribution of Novell's patents to CPTN.

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