EU not opposed to Microsoft-Novell patent deal

Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC are planning to spend US$450 million on more than 800 patents

European regulators have few qualms over the planned purchase of more than 800 Novell patents for US$450 million by the Microsoft-led consortium CPTN Holdings, according to a statement posted Monday.

"The Commission is aware of the proposed acquisition by CPTN Holdings," states the message from European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia. "On the basis of the information currently available at this stage, it appears unlikely that the proposed transaction requires a notification to the Commission under the Merger Regulation."

"Furthermore, in addition to the consideration under the Merger Regulation, the Commission has currently no indication that the mere acquisition of the patents in question by CPTN Holdings would lead to an infringement of EU competition rules," it adds.

The statement came in response to a question posed by Emma McClarkin, a European Parliament member from the UK. A constituent had contacted McClarkin, expressing concern about the CPTN deal.

The notice was flagged Tuesday by Florian Mueller, a prominent advocate and blogger on open-source software issues.

It follows the news last week that CPTN Holdings had in late December withdrawn a filing it made to the German Federal Cartel Office in connection with the planned patent purchase.

CPTN "voluntarily withdrew its FCO filing in order to provide the FCO with more time to review the proposed patent sale," according to a filing Novell made Jan. 14 with the US Securities & Exchange Commission. "CPTN intends to re-file its notification as soon as practicable following further discussions with the FCO."

Last week, a Microsoft spokesperson called the move "a purely procedural step necessary to provide time to allow for review of the proposed transaction," but declined further comment.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is

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