Late last year, we essentially bid farewell to Linux distributor Novell after the Waltham, Mass.-based company was acquired by Attachmate. CPTN Holdings, a coalition of companies pulled together by Microsoft to hold patents, was expected to take control of most of the company's intellectual property. At the time, fellow IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle said:
CPTN may be both a defensive and offensive tool for the companies that have invested in it. It's a defensive tool in that the patents can be used by the investors if the investors are sued for related patent infringements. It can also be used as an offensive tool against companies infringing on CPTN patents that are competing with the investors.
According to Apple Insider, that coalition of companies-consisting of Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle-has withdrawn its proposal to form the coalition, which would then buy 882 Novell patents for $42 million. The move follows complaints the Open Invention Network and Free Software Foundation Europe filed with the German Federal Cartel Office, which would have had to approve the proposal.
OSI argued that the companies that would be participating in the coalition had "a long history of opposing and misrepresenting the value of open source software,"
and that allowing the coalition would eventually thwart open source. Moreover, FSFE President Karston Gerloff pointed out that Microsoft in particular has a history of using patent litigation to "stifle competition from free software" and to continue its campaign of "fear, uncertainty and doubt" regarding free and open source software.
AI writer Daniel Dilger points out German officials didn't have the proposal long enough to officially deny it. It stands to reason then, that the companies withdrew the proposal voluntarily.
And since none of these companies are known for backing down from fights, the question now is where and in what form will CPTN emerge next?