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Attachmate completes Novell acquisition

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The Attachmate Group has finalized its acquisition of Novell, completing a $2.2 billion deal announced last November that puts Novell into private hands. Attachmate intends to operate Novell as two separate business units under the Novell and SUSE brand names, alongside Attachmate’s own brand and NetIQ.

“Novell has had many chapters in its 28-year history and today marks the start of a new, exciting chapter,” said Novell’s chief marketing officer John Dragoon, in the company blog. “As Novell joins forces with The Attachmate Group, the result will be a powerful portfolio of companies united by a common purpose and dedicated team. I’m confident existing Novell and SUSE customers will continue to enjoy the great relationships and products that they’ve come to expect from Novell.”

The acquisition had generated controversy in the open source community because, in addition to the actual copyrights on Unix, Novell owns a number of patents utilized in open source products. Attachmate had indicated it intended to hold onto the Unix copyrights under the deal, but the original acquisition plan would have had Novell would selling some 882 patents to CPTN Holdings for $450 million. The buyer for those patents was the specially-created CPTN HOldings, a coalition that includes companies like Apple, EMC, Oracle, and Microsoft, raising the specter that Microsoft would use ownership and licensing of the patents to attack open source vendors.

However, as a condition of the acquisition, the U.S. Justice Department last week adjusted the terms of the CPTN patent sale to prevent them from being used as a weapon against open source products. Under the adjusted deal, Microsoft will be selling Attachmate back all the Novell patents it would have acquired under the original deal; in return, Microsoft will receive a license to use those patents. The other three stakeholders in CPTN will be able to hold onto the patents they receive through the process, although EMC is specifically barred from acquiring 33 Novel patents related to virtualization.

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