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As revealed by the blog FOSS Patents, on Dec. 9 the four companies, under the name CPTN Holdings LLC, acquired the patents for $442 million. The consortium of companies, said to have been organized by Microsoft, has defined the newly formed company as one that is in the market of "patents."
"Within the consortium, the four players will have to agree on a common denominator concerning the patents to be acquired," author Florian Mueller wrote. "They've apparently been able to agree that those patents are valuable assets to own."
The list of patents remains unknown. Earlier this year, Novell, which specializes in enterprise operating systems, was acquired by Attachmate.
The apparent acquisition of Novell patents is not to be confused with a patent sale from a very different, but similarly named company, Nortel. Earlier this week, it was rumored that Apple, Google and others are bidding for 4G wireless network patents owned by Nortel, a bankrupt Canadian telecom.
Ownership of patents has proven to be an extremely valuable asset in the mobile business, as many of the major players in the smartphone market are suing one another. In fact, on Wednesday, Finnish handset maker Nokia announced it had filed new lawsuits accusing Apple of patent violation in the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands.