SCO loses to Novell over Unix copyrights

Written by Phil Cogar

August 13, 2007 // 3:15 p.m.

Tags: #copyright #court #lawsuit #unix

Companies: #novell #sco

Almost four and a half years ago, the SCO Group began its lengthy court battle over just who owns the copyrights to the Unix operating system.

It all started way back in March 2003 when SCO initially filed a lawsuit against IBM. The suit claimed that SCO owned the copyrights to Unix and that IBM had copied the source code for use in the freely distributed Linux OS. But before the suit could manage to pick up any steam, Novell stepped forward and claimed that it held the copyrights.

This part right here is where everything gets interesting.

Formally called Caldera Systems and Caldera International, SCO's predecessor company had licensed Unix from Novell and began packaging its own Unix OS for use on Intel's 8086 and 8088 processor based computers. It was in this transaction that SCO claims to have received the copyrights to Unix.

SCO's hope for the lawsuit was to not only receive a landfill full of money (the lawsuit against IBM was for over £490 million!) but to also charge end users a license fee to run any flavour of Linux.

Thankfully, a blow was dealt to that on Friday when a federal court judge in Utah issued a summary judgment declaring that Novell had retained the copyrights to Unix.

The case isn't completely over though as SCO has hinted that it will appeal the decision and continue on. “Although the district judge ruled in Novell's favor on important issues, the case has not yet been fully vetted by the legal system and we will continue to explore our options with respect to how we move forward from here,” a representative said.

Novell had its own words about the decision, of course. “The court's ruling has cut out the core of SCO's case and, as a result, eliminates SCO's threat to the Linux community based upon allegations of copyright infringement of UNIX. We are extremely pleased with the outcome.” the company said in a statement.

With the heart and lungs of the suit having been cut out by the judge, SCO may find out soon enough that it doesn't have enough breath left in it for another round.

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