Vorig jaar berichtte ik dat Novell werd overgenomen door Attachmate. Novell is rechthebbende op de intellectuele eigendomsrechten op UNIX, de software die ten grondslag ligt aan het Linux platform. Het Amerikaanse Ministerie van Justitie en de Duitse Mededingingsautoriteit diende de overname echter nog wel even goed te keuren.
De Free Software Foundation en Open Source Initiative hadden bezwaar aangetekend tegen de overname. Het Amerikaanse Ministerie van Justitie en de Duitse Mededingingsautoriteit hebben de overname inmiddels goedgekeurd, maar hebben daarbij wel rekening gehouden met de bezwaren van de stichtingen. Daarom zijn er voorwaarden aan de overname verbonden. Zo wordt door het Ministerie gesteld dat:
"The department said that, as originally proposed, the deal would jeopardize the ability of open source software, such as Linux, to continue to innovate and compete in the development and distribution of server, desktop, and mobile operating systems, middleware, and virtualization products. Although the department will allow the transaction to proceed, it will continue investigating the distribution of the Novell patents to the CPTN owners.
In light of the department’s competition concerns, CPTN and its owners made revisions to their formation agreements to acquire approximately 882 patents and patent applications from Novell. The department said that these changes were necessary to protect competition and innovation in the open source software community.
“The parties’ actions address the immediate competitive concerns resulting from the transfer of Novell’s patents. To promote innovation and competition, it is critical to balance antitrust enforcement with allowing appropriate patent transfers and exercise of patent rights,” said Sharis A. Pozen, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Although we recognize that the various changes to the agreement recently made by the parties are helpful, the department will continue to investigate the distribution of patents to ensure continued competition.”
In order to address competition concerns of the department, CPTN and its owners have revised their agreements to provide that:
· Microsoft will sell back to Attachmate all of the Novell patents that Microsoft would have otherwise acquired, but will continue to receive a license for the use of those patents, the patents acquired by the other three participants and any patents retained by Novell;
· EMC will not acquire 33 Novell patents and patent applications that have been identified as related to virtualization software;
· All of the Novell patents will be acquired subject to the GNU General Public License, Version 2, a widely adopted open-source license, and the Open Invention Network (OIN) License, a significant license for the Linux System;
· CPTN does not have the right to limit which of the patents, if any, are available under the OIN license; and
· Neither CPTN nor its owners will make any statement or take any action with the purpose of influencing or encouraging either Novell or Attachmate to modify which of the patents are available under the OIN license. "