Unholy Alliance - Microsoft Teams With Apple, Oracle and EMC on 882 Novell Patents

The good news is their interests are so disparate it will be hard to get something done

When the news of the Novell acquisition broke there was intense curiosity around CPTN Holdings, the shadowy consortium that was "organized by Microsoft" which bought certain IP patents for $450 million dollars.  For 450 million you had to figure that there was something of value there.  But what it was and who besides Microsoft was behind it was a mystery.  I assumed it was Microsoft and a bunch of mickey mouse Microsoft partners. Being that Microsoft had a patent deal in place with Novell, I assumed that was what it was all about.  But today Florian Mueller revealed who is really behind CPTN Holdings. He was able to find out due a tweet pointing to a German site where a joint venture notice was filed. In an unholy alliance Microsoft has been joined by Apple, Oracle and EMC to buy 882 patents that were owned by Novell.

Holy patent holdings, Batman. I felt like I was watching that old Batman movie when all of the arch villains come together to take out the caped crusaders. First blush is that this has got to be no good for Linux, open source, the Open Invention Network (of which Novell was a member) and the general well being of us all.  But on further thought maybe it isn't that bad. The fact is that each of these companies is large and powerful enough to be a foil to the others. Certainly Microsoft is not going to see Apple and Oracle kowtow to its wishes unless they are also in the best interest of the others as well. Much like a divided government with one party in charge of the executive branch and another in charge of Congress, maybe it means that only things that really make sense to a broad majority will actually get done. They each have disparate enough interests to make sure that no one of them uses these patents as a blunt force to stifle the market.

But what could possibly bring this group together and put up almost a half a billion dollars? They didn't do it for altruistic reasons I am sure.  Oracle supports Linux (sometimes). EMC is not known as anti-open source particularly. Apple likes to control everything but what patents did they want a piece of? 

If I had to guess this had to be around Unix/Linux. One name left out of this is Google. Could it be that the alliance will use these patents against Google's ChromeOS and other Linux based offerings? That is the only thing that would make it worth the money for these players. But what could their diabolical plan be?  I guess we are going to have to wait for the other shoe to drop. It should be clear soon. So stay tuned, same bat channel, same bat time to find out.

They say politics makes for strange bedfellows. But it would appear that patents make for even stranger ones!

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