SCO Targets Novell in Slander Suit

SCO Group unleashed its latest round of legal “shock and awe” just as the LinuxWorld show got underway today in New York.

The Lindon, Utah-based firm filed what it called a “slander of title” lawsuit against Novell alleging a “bad faith effort to interfere with SCO’s rights with respect to Unix and UnixWare,” according to an SCO statement released Tuesday.

“The timing is unrelated to the show,” SCO spokesman Marc Modersitzki told

Modersitzki said the suit was filed this morning, and Novell has not yet responded. “We don’t expect any response,” Modersitzki added. “Some of the responses Novell has offered prior to today have confused customers as to the ownership of Unix. We want to clarify that.”

The suit, filed today in Utah State Court in Salt Lake City, Utah, alleges copyright violations and interference with commerce. On the code front, SCO alleges that Novell has improperly filed copyright registrations for Unix technology it says is covered by SCO’s copyrights. SCO also charges Novell with making false public statements regarding the ownership of Unix and UnixWare. The two companies have sparred over bragging rights to the enterprise operating system.

As for the business-related claims, the suit alleges that Novell has made “false statements with the intent to cause customers and potential customers to not do business with SCO,” according to SCO’s statement. In addition, it claims that “Novell has attempted, in bad faith, to block SCO’s ability to enforce its copyrights.”

The suit seeks cash damages, in an amount to be determined in a trial. It also requests injunctions that would require Novell to assign to SCO any wrongfully obtained copyrights.

For its part, Provo, Utah-based Novell was caught unawares.

“We can’t comment because we haven’t seen the filing yet,” said spokesman Bruce Lowry. “But we can certainly say we will be defending our interests.”

SCO’s latest legal maneuver comes amid a growing Linux-copyright battle with companies and users alike. SCO is embroiled in a contract dispute against IBM and has SCO been laying the groundwork for collecting license fees from Linux users in European companies.

The legal filing also comes less than a week after Novell said it would indemnify its customers against potential intellectual property challenges to its SUSE Linux distribution. The protection measures only apply to certain products such as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 and only under certain circumstances.

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