Novell Scores a Touchdown
It might even be a checkmate. It looks like SCO's game is over, at least as far as users of Linux being threatened. Novell today is saying that it, not SCO, owns the copyright and patent rights to UNIX System V. The statement isn't equivocal, but it does appear that the rug has just been pulled out from under SCO.
In response, SCO put out this statement:
"SCO owns the contract rights to the UNIX® operating system. SCO has the contractual right to prevent improper donations of UNIX code, methods or concepts into Linux by any UNIX vendor.
"Copyrights and patents are protection against strangers. Contracts are what you use against parties you have relationships with. From a legal standpoint, contracts end up being far stronger than anything you could do with copyrights.
"SCO's lawsuit against IBM does not involve patents or copyrights. SCO's complaint specifically alleges breach of contract, and SCO intends to protect and enforce all of the contracts that the company has with more than 6,000 licensees.
"We formed SCOsource in January 2003 to enforce our UNIX rights and we intend to aggressively continue in this successful path of operation."
If all this is is a contract dispute between IBM and SCO, why did SCO send warning letters to users of Linux and say that no business should use Linux? They seemed to imply they intended some copyright-based claims against every end user of Linux. Now they are backpeddling.
Novell's letter to SCO is here and here is one pertinent snip:
"SCO claims it has specific evidence supporting its allegation against the Linux community. It is time to substantiate that claim, or recant the sweeping and unsupported allegation made in your letter. Absent such action, it will be apparent to all that SCO's true intent is to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about Linux in order to extort payments from Linux distributors and users.
"SCO continues to say that it owns the UNIX System V patents, yet it must know that it does not. A simple review of U.S. Patent Office records reveals that Novell owns those patents.
"Importantly, and contrary to SCO's assertions, SCO is not the owner of the UNIX copyrights. Not only would a quick check of U.S. Copyright Office records reveal this fact, but a review of the asset transfer agreement between Novell and SCO confirms it. To Novell's knowledge, the 1995 agreement governing SCO's purchase of UNIX from Novell does not convey to SCO the associated copyrights. We believe it unlikely that SCO can demonstrate that it has any ownership interest whatsoever in those copyrights. Apparently, you share this view, since over the last few months you have repeatedly asked Novell to transfer the copyrights to SCO, requests that Novell has rejected. Finally, we find it telling that SCO failed to assert a claim for copyright or patent infringement against IBM."
well...can't say it hasn't been fun. But it looks like the real fun is ahead.