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Novell Businesses Microsoft Patents Unix

Novell Sale Delayed Due To Patent Investigation 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the something-is-afoot dept.
darthcamaro writes "Novell's $2.2 billion dollar acquisition by Attachmate isn't going to close as soon as first expected. A key part of the deal is the sale of 882 patents to a consortium of vendors led by Microsoft. The US Department of Justice is investigating the patent deal and is now pushing out the close until at least April 12th. Does this mean the deal is in trouble?"
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Novell Sale Delayed Due To Patent Investigation

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  • by the linux geek (799780) on Friday March 11, 2011 @01:54PM (#35455404)
    ... is who actually owns the UNIX copyrights after the sale. I'm not talking about patents, which is what keeps getting brought up - who actually owns the copyright to the latest version of UNIX System V? Is it SCO, who developed it, or Novell, who supposedly owns UNIX, or someone else?
    • It's a shame that Unix has ended up being a football that greedy companies fight over now.
      • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday March 11, 2011 @02:03PM (#35455512) Homepage

        It's a shame that Unix has ended up being a football that greedy companies fight over now.

        It's a shame, but it's hardly surprising.

        UNIX and a lot of the concepts (and code) in it are the foundation for a lot of stuff that's used in modern operating systems. If you can own that, you can have leverage over most operating systems.

        Having Microsoft suddenly own the copyrights and everything else for UNIX would be bad for anybody that isn't them -- if every other OS had to pay Microsoft licensing fees, then they stand to gain quite a bit.

        Companies are generally greedy, especially once they're big enough that lawyers play a significant part in how they run their day to day stuff.

        • UNIX and a lot of the concepts (and code) in it are the foundation for a lot of stuff that's used in modern operating systems. If you can own that, you can have leverage over most operating systems.

          UNIX is from the 1970s. Patents last 20 years. Anybody can do the math on that one.

          And the copyright is largely muted by the license Berkeley distributed so much of it under. How much of UNIX do you really care about that isn't available under the BSD license?

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            And the copyright is largely muted by the license Berkeley distributed so much of it under. How much of UNIX do you really care about that isn't available under the BSD license?

            Well, there's what we know, and what we think we know, and what you can convince a judge is true.

            I would like to believe this has been largely resolved, but SCO didn't lose for any of the reasons you cite. They lost because it turned out Novell still owned the copyrights. So, essentially, SCO had no standing to sue. (Well, that an

            • The fear is that with enough lawyers and money, someone could undercut the things that we here on Slashdot generally accept to be true, and re-open the debate.

              But that's always the case. It's like the Linux patent FUD. They can spread FUD all they want, but until they identify specific patents or specific code they're just pissing in the wind. And as soon as they identify something specific, it immediately gets replaced and the threat dissipates.

              I've made this point before in the patent context: There are only two ways it makes business sense to enforce a software patent. The first is if you're a patent troll so that your target can't make any counterclaims again

      • It has been since the early 90's, if not earlier...
      • How relevant is that particular copyright, really? I mean - everything in Unix has been transported to other operating systems, right? Linux, BSD, Mac's OS's - and God knows what else. What is left to fight over? Yeah, I know, Linux has been pointed at, with people muttering about stolen code. But, audit after audit turns up no copied code.

        What does Unix have, that a person can't get from Linux, or BSD, or OSX? The license from ONE of those is going to meet anyone's requirements. Let the legal beagle

        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday March 11, 2011 @02:20PM (#35455752) Journal

          I guess the continuing fear is that Microsoft and other parties with some interest in squashing Linux will just continue tossing potshots at it via the copyrights. Yes, we all know the history of Unix and how things got to be where they are, but the Big Guys have never had a problem with creating their own fraudulent narratives.

        • UNIX derivatives (AIX, HP-UX, Solaris), which hopefully won't be affected by this, have a huge customer base on larger servers. SCO UNIX used to have quite a bit of marketshare in small business servers, but I think that has largely faded away since the craziness began.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          How relevant is that particular copyright, really? I mean - everything in Unix has been transported to other operating systems, right?

          Well, if someone owns the copyright, and they can convince a judge that the stuff that was "transported" into other operating systems was actually copyright ... they could get an injunction or force people to pay licensing fees.

          Part of the reason SCO finally got tossed out of court was that Novell still owned the copyrights. Well, that and they couldn't find any infringing c

        • by turgid (580780)

          What does Unix have, that a person can't get from Linux, or BSD, or OSX?

          Not a lot, and anyway, "real unix" (Sys VR4) got Open Sourced several years ago now in the form of Solaris.

          Not only has the horse bolted, it has run away to pastures new, died of old age and is eating buttercups and daisies in the great field invisibule with Shergar and Red Rum.

    • Unix System V was not developed by SCO. It was developed by the original AT&T (not the current company that was renamed to AT&T after they bought part of the old AT&T). Of course, the SCO that exists today is not the same company as you were probably thinking of anyway.
      • I didn't say it was originally developed by SCO, but they have been the ones developing that particular codebase since the early 90's. System V Revision 5 was solely an SCO release.
        • System V Revision 5 was only ever used by Santa Clara Operations. Since nobody else ever used that version of UNIX, it is really irrelevant who owns the copyright on that.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Friday March 11, 2011 @01:59PM (#35455472)

    A key part of the deal is the sale of 882 patents to a consortium of vendors led by Microsoft. The US Department of Justice is investigating the patent deal and is now pushing out the close until at least April 12th. Does this mean the deal is in trouble?

    Nope! It means the deal has hit a [major] bump depending on how you see it.

  • by michelcolman (1208008) on Friday March 11, 2011 @02:00PM (#35455480)
    Apparently there's a patent about "selling a company to another company". This may take a while...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2011 @02:01PM (#35455492)
    Novell will continue to own the Unix-relevant patents according to the information that I have, From what I know (posting as an Attachmate employee - hence anonymous) the Unix patents are not being included in the deal.

    One of my colleagues asked this question of one of the C*O people when they came to visit my workplace to assuage fears within the Attachmate organisation, and the answer was that the Unix patents were not included in the patent transfer package, and that there were perpetual licenses for the Attachmate/Novell entity.

    However, I've not seen any notice of exactly what patents are for offer in the transfer, and I've spend a bit of time asking and not being told.

    • by JonJ (907502)

      the Unix patents are not being included in the deal.

      This I find interesting, if the UNIX patents aren't included.. What is? Are we talking identity management, groupware or something else? in that case, if Microsoft are suddenly sitting on a bunch of groupware patents, what's going to happen to scalix, zimbra, ox, kerio and others that might infringe on the patents? And if we disregard patents, what about the UNIX copyright? Everyone's talking about patents, but aren't the SCO/Novell/IBM/Red Hat trials about copyright/contracts?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "However, I've not seen any notice of exactly what patents are for offer in the transfer, and I've spend a bit of time asking and not being told."

      That would be an interesting turn of events.... For a long time Novell was the only viable NOS to MS Server... When I left the workforce Novell was moving a LOT of their product over to Linux. There were lots of spin-offs, etc.. They heavily modified SuSe linux. How many patents are there from Suse that would be sold to MS and then used to cripple linux by MS

  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Friday March 11, 2011 @02:08PM (#35455586)

    Only now they read the fine print in the deal they made with MS regarding the SUSE Linux vouchers?

    I'm shocked!

  • by yuna49 (905461) on Friday March 11, 2011 @03:07PM (#35456378)

    While everyone here always focuses on what this means for Linux, Novell sells a number of products [novell.com] that have nothing per se to do with *nix like GroupWise and ZenWorks. Hell, there still may be existing patents that relate to NetWare.

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