04.03.10

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Microsoft Could Buy UNIX, Novell and Microsoft to Return to the Courtroom

Posted in Antitrust, Courtroom, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, SCO, UNIX at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amiga UNIX

Summary: Novell’s ownership of UNIX leads to increasingly-prevalent concern that UNIX is not in safe hands; Novell promises to appeal the WordPerfect ruling

IT IS not entirely clear what happens to SCO after losing the trial because the next course of action is not entirely known yet. There is simply no certainty and we do not know the impact of UNIX being up for sale if Novell is indeed up for sale (which it is). The 451 Group has this new article, titled “How Much Will Novell Go For?”

Over at InfoWorld (Savio Rodrigues writing for IDG), a similar question is asked in light of the SCO case:

Novell recently secured a jury decision against SCO pertaining to the ownership of Unix. Here are two relevant questions and answers from Ian Bruce, Novell’s director of PR:

Q: Given that SCO barely exists any more, what is the real relevance of all this?
A: The jury has confirmed Novell’s ownership of the Unix copyrights, which SCO had asserted to own in its attack on Linux. An adverse decision would have had profound implications for the Linux community.

Q: If Novell owns the copyrights to Unix, what does that mean for Linux?
A: We own the copyrights and we will continue to protect the open source community, including Linux.

Consider that Novell’s board rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from investment fund Elliott Associates just two weeks ago. Novell’s board said the offer “undervalues the company’s franchise and growth prospects.” However, the board did commit to a review of its alternatives, including an outright sale.

[...]

Being April Fool’s, one has to consider the notion of Microsoft acquiring Novell in order to own the copyrights to Unix, which could be used in thinly veiled threats against Linux users and customers. Personally, I don’t think suing customers is good for business.

Update as of April 1: I am not suggesting that Microsoft would or could legally do this. I am not a lawyer. I included this idea because everyone jumps to it when Novell’s future is discussed. But as @Kirovs comments below, Novell has released the code under the GPL, thereby impacting the legal rights of Novell’s potential acquirer and other Linux vendors.

Groklaw continues to assess the situation and separately, IDG looks back at what SCO did.

It is now almost seven years since the SCO Group gave up on the idea of actually producing good products and hitched its future to suing others. In my first column on the topic I predicted that someone would pay off the SCO Group, but it turned out that no one was willing to hold his nose long enough to do so. Well, almost no one: it may be that Microsoft provided SCO with some funding. But maybe this was like two skunks mating — maybe Microsoft could not smell the stink since it has frequently threatened the same kind of attacks on Linux using secret information that the SCO Group was known for.

CNET also has some newer coverage and an audiocast. India Blooms News Service and the Canadian Press (also here under a different heading) are just two among many more sources that continue to cover the case. Microsoft boosters like Gralla [1, 2] divert attention from the case and make it look like a Microsoft victory. Gralla connected this to a totally separate case involving WordPerfect. Microsoft was excused, but Novell promises to appeal. Novell’s appeal is hardly mentioned by Microsoft apologists and another Microsoft booster, Stuart Johnston, who continues to just concentrate on the preliminary ruling [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Here is how it relates to the above:

Judge J. Frederick Motz, who was presiding over the long-standing lawsuit, declared that Novell was not in a position to pursue the lawsuit against Microsoft, as it had sold the once-popular PC software products to Caldera in 1996.

There was also some coverage that wasn’t biased in Microsoft’s favour (in advance) [1, 2], but it was easily outnumbered. A lot of the press is occupied by Microsoft sympathisers, even The Register after many staff changes. They try to impose their beliefs (and sometimes their warped versions of history) on other people.

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