10.24.09

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Latest Twists in the SCO Case: AutoZone Settlement and More

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, IBM, Novell, SCO, UNIX at 8:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCO

Summary: A SCO Trustee, Edward Cahn, wishes to end the case against AutoZone, but the Linux lawsuit stays for now, with or without McBride

THE firing of SCO CEO Darl McBride is an important development that we wrote about in [1, 2, 3]. But there is more stuff going on at the moment, starting with this from Groklaw:

SCO’s Chapter 11 Trustee Moves to Settle AutoZone

Edward Cahn, the Chapter 11 Trustee now running SCO Group, wants to settle and be done with SCO v. AutoZone. He sees no value in further litigation. So he has filed a motion asking the court to approve the settlement he has worked out with AutoZone.

Can you believe it took this long? It’s been in the Top Ten Stupidest Cases of All Time Hall of Fame since 2004. Evidently Mr. Cahn does not share Darl’s gambling ways, nor his zeal to punish SCO customers who switched from Unix to Linux. SCO put AutoZone through an experience it never deserved, but it looks like all the horses are heading home to the barn. At last.

More on the subject from a Microsoft-friendly source:

At any rate, Schwartman says the firing of McBride, and the company’s announcement Thursday that it will settle claims against Autozone (AZO), indi ate the company may look to settle with Novell as well, which would ease legal costs for Novell and perhaps lead to “a redirection of legacy royalties” to Novell. Schwartzman maintains a “Buy” rating on Novell and a $6 price target.

There is a lot more coming from Groklaw, including Darl’s fate. The title Carla chose is slightly different, saying that “Darl tries threats to get a job.”

The same three appeals court judges who decided to send the copyright ownership issue in SCO v. Novell back to Utah for a jury trial, including the now-retired Judge McConnell, have denied the Novell petition for rehearing. Judge McConnell wrote the original ruling, so it’s hardly a surprise that he would feel it was just right.

More from Groklaw regarding bankruptcy:

Update: Pachulski, Stang has filed a motion to withdraw as SCO’s attorney, or as one of their bankruptcy attorneys:

9. The Chapter 11 Trustee has selected counsel in these cases and an application to approve that retention has been approved (Docket No. 914).

10. PSZ&J seeks leave of this Court to withdraw as counsel to the Debtors in these chapter 11 cases. The Chapter 11 Trustee is serving and is represented by counsel and the Debtors’ interests are adequately represented.

So much is changing. Not to be cynical, but when the money runs out, if there is an opening, so do the lawyers ofttimes.

The local press writes about the Novell-SCO case:

Action by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday clears the way for a trial in Utah in a dispute between The SCO Group and Novell Inc. over the ownership of the copyrights to the Unix computer operating system.

This will probably be the last post that mentions McBride’s epic departure, so here is a record from Reuters, a sort of ripoff of the article from Ars Technica, and a variety of other reports on the subject, including the statement that lawsuits are still SCO’s present direction.

Perhaps the decision to pursue the six-year-old legal battle with IBM and Novell was fueled by a favorable ruling in August by a federal appeals court.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that SCO’s argument had merit. The company maintains that IBM and Novell illegally used the Unix operating system to make a crucial improvement that turned the Linux system into a competitor.

Still, Lyman said SCO may have missed a golden opportunity to shed the bad blood it created in the Linux and IT communities.

More on Novell’s role:

Which leads us back to Novell. And during this whole time, Novell’s version has been that the Santa Cruz Operation — the folks SCO acquired, not SCO themselves to begin with — did purchase certain things from Novell, mainly the right to use the UNIX and UnixWare trademarks under controlled circumstances (see page 12, section C), but with Novell holding the leash on all of them. Novell insists they never sold off a controlling stake in UNIX to anyone. Plus, Novell’s feelings vis-a-vis Linux are plain: they develop it, support it, and provide legal indemnification for its users.

There’s a part of me that can’t wait for the Novell trial, which promises to be either very long or very, very short.

Novell and IBM both refuse to speak about McBride’s sacking.

Novell and IBM also declined to comment.

Linux Today has a sort of eulogy for McBride (also promoted here), which puts things in perspective.

Darl McBride, to the glee of many, is out of a job. I think this signals the real end of all The SCO Group litigation, because I think Mr. McBride was hired specifically to litigate rather than run a software company. SCO (Caldera back then) had a good management team in place led by Ransom Love, and they were given the boot to make room for Darl and his henchpersons.

Their cunning master plan failed, despite masterful gaming of the system and support from deep-pockets third parties who were happy to write checks, stay behind the scenes, and let Mr. McBride take the hits.

SCO used to contribute to Linux, just like Novell. It’s reason to be equally cautious about Novell, which claims ownership of UNIX.

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