Court ruling gives Novell copyright in UNIX


A U.S. judge ruled Friday that software company SCO Group did not have copyrights that are key to its claims of ownership of technology used in Linux software.

Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court for Utah said in a 102-page ruling that Novell Inc., rather than SCO, owns copyrights to the UNIX computer operating system, which also jeopardizes a related SCO lawsuit against IBM.

IBM and Novell are both major supporters of Linux.

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

The judge also said Novell was now "entitled, at its sole discretion, to direct SCO to waive" its claim against International Business Machines Corp.

SCO sued IBM in March 2003, alleging IBM had violated UNIX licensing agreements and introduced part of its UNIX source code, or software blueprint, into Linux.

Novell then said it had not transferred UNIX copyrights to SCO in a 1996 asset sale.

SCO was not immediately available for comment.

The decision does not end the case, however. Jury trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 17. In an Aug. 10 trial order, the judge ordered both sides to submit, in light of his decision, a joint statement identifying the remaining claims and the anticipated length of trial for the case by Aug. 17.

Novell is represented by a team from Morrison & Foerster led by Michael Jacobs and Kenneth Brakebill, along with Marc Pernick, Grant Kim, David Melaugh and Eric Acker.

Also representing Novell are Thomas Karrenberg, John Mullen and Heather Sneddon of Anderson & Karrenberg in Salt Lake City; Novell's Jim Lundberg; and Stanford attorney Paul Goldstein.

SCO is represented by Brent Hatch, Mark Clements and Mark James of Hatch James & Dodge in Salt Lake City; Boies Schiller & Flexner's David Boies, Sean Eskovitz and Edward Normand in New York; Sashi Bach Boruchow, William Dzurilla, Robert Silver, Stuart Singer in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Mark Heise and Stephen Zack in Miami; and Scott Gant in Washington.

Also representing SCO are John Brogan and Devan Padmanabhan of Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis and Kevin McBride of McBride Law in Santa Monica.

The case is SCO Group Inc. v. Novell Inc., 04cv139.

THR, ESQ. staff contributed to this report.