The U.S. Justice Department is taking longer than expected to review the sale of 882 patents by Novell to a Microsoft-led consortium, delaying the related acquisition of Novell by Seattle-based Attachmate Corp.

Novell and the Microsoft consortium “have agreed to provide the DOJ with additional time to review the patent sale and not to close the patent sale prior to April¬†12, 2011. The Company remains committed to working with the DOJ as it conducts its review of the patent sale,” according to a recent regulatory filing by Novell, reported by eWeek.

The acquisition of Novell by Attachmate, announced in November, is contingent in part on Novell’s ability to sell the patents for $450 million to the Microsoft group. Companies in the consortium with Microsoft include Apple, Oracle and EMC.

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