Yesterday, a federal judge in Salt Lake City ruled against The SCO Group on its claim to ownership of copyright in the UNIX operating system.  The court held that SCO’s predecessor, Santa Cruz Operations, received only a license to use the UNIX copyright material in a 1995 deal with Novell, Inc.  Ownership remains in Novell, the court concluded.  The SCO Group, Inc. v. Novell, Inc., No. 2:04CV139DAK (D. Utah Aug. 10, 2007).

SCO sued Novell in 2003 for slandering SCO’s title to copyrights in the UNIX software code.  More claims and counterclaims — and probably a good deal of bedlam — ensued.

The decision focuses on language in two schedules to the parties’ Asset Purchase Agreement.  Schedule 1.1(a) lists the "Intellectual Property" that Novell sells to SCO’s predecessor as including "[t]rademarks UNIX and UnixWare as and to the extent held by Seller (excluding any compensation Seller receives with respect of the license granted to X/Open regarding the UNIX trademark)."  But Schedule 1.1(b) defines "Excluded Assets"  as, among other things, "[a]ll copyrights and trademarks, except for the trademarks UNIX and UnixWare" and "All Patents".

The court wades through hundreds and probably thousands of pages of briefing and evidence before concluding that Schedule 1.1(b) means what it says — that assets that Novell sold excluded "[a]ll copyrights".  So there.

Blawgletter doesn’t understand anywhere near all the implications of the outcome.  But UNIX apparently boasts lots of swell features and has many derivatives, including Linux — the "freely available computer operating system that has become an alternative to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system", according to the WSJ.

Barry Barnett

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