08.25.09

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What If Novell Does Not Own UNIX? Nothing.

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell, SCO, UNIX at 12:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amiga UNIX

Summary: Decision regarding UNIX copyrights is overturned

UNIX has just turned 40. It is a lot older than SCO/Caldera, whose actions against Linux have numerous connections to Microsoft. SCO claims to have just released a product, but the word on everyone’s lips is to do with a court decision reversal. It comes two years after an important ruling.

A federal appeals court Monday overturned a 2007 decision that Novell owns the Unix code, and the ruling now clears the way for SCO to pursue a $1 billion copyright infringement case against IBM.

In a 54-page decision, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said it was reversing the 2007 summary judgment decision by Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, which found that Novell was the owner of Unix and UnixWare copyrights.

This is a blow to Novell (needless to say), but it can also refuel some old FUD about Linux. SJVN is not particularly concerned. As he rightly explains, SCO has no case anyway. SCO did not win a case against Linux; in fact, UNIX ownership is unrelated to Linux and only a peripheral case. Will Microsoft contribute some more funds as it did before?

There’s a fool born every minute, but a fool who wants to invest still more money in legal fees in this money pit? I doubt it. I don’t think even Microsoft, which has bankrolled SCO’s anti-Linux lawsuits, has the stomach for it.

The SCO zombie’s victory is meaningless legal trivia. The company, and its anti-Linux claims, is still dead. The now brainless corpse is just twitching a little still.

According to Tom Harvey’s report, SCO has plans to litigate, but where will the money come from?

The ruling may mean The SCO Group will renew its effort to collect licensing fees from thousands of companies that run the Linux system, said McBride. He also said the ruling again calls into question IBM’s ability to continue marketing its Aix server program, which is derived from Unix.

According to one report, Norris may step in, but will SCO’s new trustee permit this? Slashdot has many comments on the subject and all the documents are here in Groklaw. Wired Magazine puts up an ugly picture of Darl McBride, whereas the AP article quotes him. As The Register puts it:

Novell could not immediately be reached for comment at time of writing.

Novell’s PR Director later posted a statement in the company’s blog.

Precisely what will happen next in the lawsuit remains to be seen, especially in light of the pending SCO bankruptcy and the recent court decision to appoint a Chapter 11 Trustee to take over the business affairs of the company.

SCO still owes money to Novell. If an investor — if any exists at all — shows up to shore up SCO’s lawsuits, Novell might have to be compensated using the allotted funds. Masnick writes:

A judge has overturned part of the lower court’s original ruling on who owns the copyrights to Unix, and ordered a full jury trial take place to determine who actually owns the copyright. Oddly, the court did not overturn the part where SCO has to pay Novell $2.5 million — which could push the company over the final edge. If, however, SCO can stay alive, and it does go to trial, the company could (and likely will) still lose that trial (and, we’re still twiddling our thumbs and waiting for any evidence from SCO that IBM actually infringed on the UNIX copyrights… but that’s another story and another lawsuit).

Likewise, we’re still twiddling our thumbs and waiting for any evidence from Microsoft that Linux actually infringed on Microsoft patents. As Heise once put it, “Pamela Jones [...] has told Infoworld that Microsoft will be the next SCO Group.” Microsoft buddies like Andrew Thomas are already on the scene, seemingly trying to fuel SCO’s cause.

“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”

Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO

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2 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    August 26, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Gravatar

    It is good news for OpenSolaris however, as it proves that SCO had the right to grant to Sun the modification to the Unix license needed to open-source Solaris.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    But wait. It hasn’t been decided yet. It’s up to the jury.

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