RealTime IT News


Is SCO dead?

A late Friday ruling from the judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah Central District may have put the proverbial nail in the coffin for SCO's Unix claims.

"The court concludes that Novell is the owner of the Unix and UnixWare copyrights," Judge Dale Kimball said in a summary judgment ruling in response to numerous requests and motions from both SCO and Novell.

Novell and SCO have been embroiled in a bitter three-year-old dispute over who owns certain Unix trademarks. SCO claims it purchased all rights from Novell in 1995, which Novell disagreed with.

Kimball's ruling also dismissed SCO counterclaims on slander. The ruling also has direct impact on SCO's case against IBM where SCO alleges that IBM improperly took Unix code and put it into Linux. The judge ruled that Novell is entitled "to direct SCO to waive its claims against IBM and Sequent, and SCO is obligated to recognize Novell's waiver of SCO's claims against IBM and Sequent."

Though the wording of the ruling may make it seem clear that Novell in fact is the owner of the Unix copyrights, the full text of the ruling is some 112 pages long and may well leave SCO with some wiggle room.

In a statement posted on its site, SCO remained defiant in the face what appears to be devastating defeat.

"The company is obviously disappointed with the ruling issued last Friday," SCO states. "However, the court clearly determined that SCO owns the copyrights to the technology developed or derived by SCO after Novell transferred the assets to SCO in 1995."

SCO also claims that the ruling does not dispute the fact that SCO owns the UnixWare trademark, which is the basis of SCO's current Unix offerings.

"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," SCO said in its statement.

Judge Kimball's ruling if upheld could also result in SCO being forced to pay a currently undetermined sum to Novell as part of the original 1995 agreement.

Novell's Joe LaSala, senior vice president and general counsel was very positive about the ruling. In a statement published on the Novell Web site, LaSala said that the court ruling vindicates the position Novell has taken since the inception of the dispute with SCO, and it settles the issue of who owns the copyrights of Unix in Novell's favor.

"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," LaSala said in the statement. "We are extremely pleased with the outcome."

If past rulings are any indication, though, this case is still not a done deal, and SCO may have a glimmer of hope. Every time the judge has issued a pre-trial ruling, SCO has appealed. The actual trial is still scheduled to start on Sept. 17, though it is unclear at this point if that will still occur.

SCO stock took a beating on Monday morning, down over 70 percent to 44 cents. The decline in SCO's stock is in stark contrast to the stock's recent recovery, having been at risk of being de-listed from the NASDAQ.