The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has agreed to a deal in the controversial purchase of Novell patents by a Microsoft-led investment group.
CPTN Holdings, a company owned by Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and EMC, has agreed to a settlement under which Microsoft will sell back its patents to Attachmate, which acquired Novell last year.
Microsoft will be allowed to purchase the patents, but will immediately sell them back to Attachmate, in return for a licence to use all the patents involved in the deal.
Additionally, each of the Novell patents being acquired by CPTN will be subject to the GNU General Public Licence version 2.
"The parties' actions address the immediate competitive concerns resulting from the transfer of Novell's patents," said DoJ anti-trust deputy assistant attorney general Sharis A. Pozen.
"To promote innovation and competition, it is critical to balance anti-trust enforcement with allowing appropriate patent transfers and exercise of patent rights."
The deal helps to ease anti-trust worries first raised in 2010 when Attachmate announced its purchase of Novell and intention to sell the company's patents to the CPTN group, but the DoJ said that it will continue to monitor the sale of Novell's patents.
Open source patent advocate Florian Mueller suggested in a blog post that the rest of the DoJ investigation will be a mere formality.
"In practical terms, this looks like a done deal, and Novell's stock price is now only a hair's breadth below the $6.10 per-share price to be paid by Attachmate," he said.
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