The consortium, CPTN Holdings, owned by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC, had planned to buy 882 patents from Novell as part of the sale of the company to Attachmate Corporation. However, the sale had been delayed by anti-trust concerns.
Under the revised arrangement, Microsoft will have to sell back the patents to Attachmate. The Redmond software giant will then receive a licence to use all the patents that CPTN is acquiring.
The changes required by the DoJ have been made in order to address anti-trust concerns.
"As originally proposed, the deal would jeopardize (sic) the ability of open source software, such as Linux, to continue to innovate and compete in the development and distribution of server, desktop, and mobile operating systems, middleware, and virtualization (sic) products," the DoJ said in a media release.
Other conditions laid down by the DoJ are that EMC will not acquire 33 Novell patents and patent applications related to virtualisation software; the purchase of all Novell patents will be subject to the GNU General Public Licence version 2 and the Open Invention Network Licence.
The OIN is a group formed to acquire patents that can be used for cross-licensing to defend the Linux System - making them available on a royalty-free basis.
The DoJ has also said that CPTN does not have the right to limit which patents are available under the OIN licence; and that neither CPTN nor its owners can try to influence either Novell or Attachmate to modify which of the patents are available under the OIN license.