2007 Unix Copyright Decision Overturned

The SCO saga about to resume, litigations might "aggressively continue"

Back in 2007 Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah found that the copyright to UNIX and UnixWare was owned by Novell and with that decision stopped SCO from further litigating against other Linux users, which spelled the end to SCO's ongoing one billion dollar lawsuit against IBM.

This ruling eventually caused SCO to file for bankruptcy, having been appointed a trustee to take over its business operations. Back in February, 2008, the private equity firm Stephen Norris Capital Partners granted SCO 100 million dollars, provided that it would "aggressively continue" the ongoing litigation against Novell, IBM and the others targeted with an alleged UNIX copyright or license infringement.

The last development in this saga came yesterday, when the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, presided by a panel of three judges, ruled that the 2004 judgment regarding the UNIX and UnixWare copyrights was to be reversed and the issue sent back for trial. The court also decided that the judgment regarding the royalties that Novell received after the 2003 Sun - SCO Agreement, amounting to 2.5 million dollars, was correct.

This ruling means that SCO is likely to resume the litigation against the companies targeted for the alleged copyright infringement, especially IBM, even if the court didn't award it the legal rights to UNIX. In a declaration to The Salt Lake City Tribune, SCO CEO Darl McBride said, "Today is not the end of the war but it certainly is a key battle that we've won [...] Now it's time to move on to the next series of battles with our victory in hand." Novell's representatives commented that "what will happen next remains to be seen".

This decision will also have an impact on SCO's position in the bankruptcy court, giving the company more chances to have a sale of the Unix business approved, while keeping the rights to pursue the ongoing lawsuits.

Judge Kimball, who presided the copyright case in 2004, recused himself from the IBM and Novell cases, being replaced by Judge Ted Stewart for the SCO - Novell litigation and Judge Tena Campell for the SCO - IBM lawsuit.

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