Novell's copyrights for the Unix operating system will remain under Attachmate's control as part of the companies' pending merger, a Novell spokesman said Wednesday.

The confirmation, which came in a terse message posted to Novell's website, seems to rule out questions of whether Unix assets are part of some 882 patents being sold to a Microsoft-led consortium, CPTN Holdings, as part of the deal.

"Novell will continue to own Novell's UNIX copyrights following completion of the merger as a subsidiary of Attachmate," the message stated.

On Monday, Novell announced that it agreed to be acquired by Attachmate. As part of the $2.2 billion deal, Novell initially stated that it would sell unspecified intellectual property to a Microsoft-led holdings company.

This vague statement led many to wonder whether Microsoft somehow had acquired the Unix copyrights as part of the deal. In March, the US District Court for the District of Utah confirmed that Novell owned the copyrights around Unix, ending a seven year battle between SCO and Novell over ownership rights.

Microsoft has also asserted that various bits of Microsoft intellectual property are embedded in Linux, though it has thus far failed to point out the offending code. Novell, however, signed a five year agreement with Microsoft that would indemnify users of its Linux-based operating system, SUSE, from Microsoft legal action.