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U.S. Antitrust will review Microsoft/Novell patent sale for 30 more days

Microsoft-led consortium still seeking 882 Novell patents

The sale of 882 Novell patents to a consortium organized by Microsoft will be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division for at least another month, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Novell

The end of Novell: Why it's worth $2.2 billion to Attachmate

Antitrust requested additional information from Novell and CPTN Holdings, a consortium organized by Microsoft, back in February. Novell and CPTN complied with the request on March 4, but have agreed to give the Department of Justice more time to review the patent sale.

"At the request of the DOJ, the Company [Novell] and CPTN have agreed to provide the DOJ with additional time to review the patent sale and not to close the patent sale prior to April 12, 2011," Novell said in the SEC filing on March 4. "The Company remains committed to working with the DOJ as it conducts its review of the patent sale."

Novell, one of the industry's most prominent open source vendors, and Microsoft must also receive approval from German authorities. "The patent sale remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of other closing conditions as set forth in the Patent Purchase Agreement, including, without limitation, the receipt of antitrust approval in Germany," Novell said.

Novell agreed to be acquired by Attachmate for $2.2 billion last November. The sale included a provision for the Microsoft-organized consortium to pay $450 million to Novell to purchase 882 patents. While organized by Microsoft, CPTN's membership also includes Apple, Oracle and EMC

The sale of Novell to Attachmate apparently can't be completed until the patent deal is also sorted out. The merger was originally slated to close in Q1 2011, but that obviously won't happen now.

There are also some interesting tidbits in a new report on Groklaw.net, which says a Microsoft employee is on the advisory board of UnXis, which is purchasing SCO and its Unix software. SCO, you might remember, filed for bankruptcy and unsuccessfully sued Novell over ownership of Unix source code.

"Not only is a Microsoft-organized entity trying to purchase Novell's patents, it has someone willing to advise UnXis, an entity also just formed for the current purpose of buying up pretty much all the rest of SCO's assets," Groklaw writes. 

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