Novell was secret acquirer of Commerce One patents

The New York Times has outed Novell as the mysterious buyer of a dozen E-business patents that Commerce One auctioned off last year in its bankruptcy case.

The auction, which took place in December in San Francisco, created quite a stir in Silicon Valley. Some major names in the tech business, including Oracle, Google and Sun Microsystems, were doing some nail biting for fear of being accused of infringing on the patents.

They can now breathe a sigh of relief. Novell, which paid $15.5 million for the patents, says it's not planning to seek licensing revenue for them. It purchased the patents, which cover technology that facilitates the exchange of electronic documents among companies, to protect its open source business, said Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry.

Novell set up a subsidiary by the name of JGR Acquisitions to bid on the patents and conceal its identity for "competitive reasons," Lowry said.

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