Earlier this week, enterprise-software company Novell was purchased by Attachmate for a cool $2.2 billion (£1.4 billion). However, it turns out the Microsoft had a pretty significant part to play in making the deal happen by leading a consortium that injected $450 million into Novell in exchange for 882 of the company's patents.
The significance of this move isn't fully understood, but many believe that it has something to do with Novell's rights pertaining to Unix and Linux. The company has been involved in various legal tussles with Microsoft in the past, most of which related to the use of property rights relating to the open-source operating system.
It's also possible that some of the patents will relate to WordPerfect, which is the centre of an ongoing legal battle with Microsoft over anticompetitive practices.
Some are suggesting that the purchase is largely strategic and that the motivation behind it is to keep the potentially valuable patents out of the hands out of competitors in the enterprise market - namely VMWare and IBM.
Others believe that the move is defensive. Given the number of law suits that Microsoft has been involved in with Novell over intellectual property rights, the purchase would prevent a third party from inheriting the ability to bring legal action against the company.
Alternatively, the software-giant could be looking to assert these rights against other companies, or even to make use of them in one of its products at some point in the future.
However, there are currently too many unknowns to draw any accurate conclusions. The consortium seems to have been created only a few days ago with the sole purpose of completing this transaction, meaning that there aren't any details on which other companies are involved. It's also unclear exactly which patents were included in the deal.
All of these details should come out as the terms of the agreement filter through the various regulatory bodies, meaning that it should soon be clear exactly what Microsoft has planned.