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By | Ashlee Vance 11th August 2007 00:32

Novell owns Unix copyrights after all

Judge tells SCO to find its checkbook

The SCO Group today took a major shot to the groin, when a judge confirmed that Novell still owns the Unix operating system copyrights.

US District Judge Dale Kimball issued a decision that spent 100 pages working its way through the various claims and counterclaims presented by SCO and Novell over the years, concerning Unix ownership rights. Much of the controversy covered by Kimball stems from the vague language of a 1995 Asset Purchase Agreement between Novell and SCO. Subsequent discussions held between the two companies did little to clear up the confusion as to whether or not Novell shifted Unix copyrights to SCO during the technology swap.

Well, now, Kimball has solved the matter for the companies. "The court concludes that Novell is the owner of the Unix and UnixWare copyrights," he wrote.

This decision results in the dismissal of numerous claims against Novell and also affords Novell some attacks against SCO. For example, Novell can once again "direct SCO to waive its claims against IBM and Sequent, and SCO is obligated to recognize Novell's waiver of SCO's claims . . ."

In addition, the judge noted that SCO turned its only profit in company history as a result of agreements with Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. Since Novell is now confirmed as owner of the Unix copyrights that were involved in those deals - and the SCOsource program - Novell should receive compensation from SCO.

Groklaw was reserved in its take on the decision.

"That's Aaaaall, Folks!," the site wrote.

"That's the ball game. There are a couple of loose ends, but the big picture is, SCO lost. Oh, and it owes Novell a lot of money from the Microsoft and Sun licenses."

You can view SCO's historical share price for a summary of the highs and lows in its Unix/Linux battle against IBM and Novell. The good times were way back there in 2003 when SCO first filed suit, and many investors supposed the software maker had a case against a wealthy rival. Since then, SCO's shares and legal attacks have been diminished by a series of judgments.

SCO has yet to craft a statement in response to the ruling. ®

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