Wednesday, 26 August 2009 05:32

SCO case: UNIX ownership to be decided by jury

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An appeals court in the long-running case between SCO and Novell has ruled that a decision on who owns the copyrights to UNIX must be decided by a jury and not a judge.


Accordingly, it has asked that a 2007 judgement, which accorded the ownership of UNIX copyrights to Novell, be set aside and that the case proceed to trial.

However, an award of about $US3 million to Novell at the time of the 2007 judgement has been affirmed.

"We take no position on which party ultimately owns the Unix copyrights or which copyrights were required for Santa Cruz to exercise its rights under the agreement," the court wrote (PDF). "Such matters are for the finder of fact on remand."

The case was filed in 2004 by SCO (corrected) soon after Novell had asserted its rights to UNIX and took place a year or so after SCO filed a case against IBM claiming that IBM had violated its copyrights by contributing UNIX code to Linux.

SCO based its case on a claim that it had purchased the UNIX rights from Novell; this led Novell to file suit.

A judicial decision two years ago handed ownership to Novell; this decision has been set aside by the appeals court.

In a statement, Novell said: "Novell is carefully studying the decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. We are pleased that the decision affirmed the district court's monetary award of approximately $3M from SCO to Novell.

"On other issues such as ownership of the UNIX copyrights, on which SCO's claims against Novell, IBM, and Linux users depend, the Court remanded the case for trial. Precisely what will happen next in the lawsuit remains to be seen, especially in light of the pending SCO bankruptcy and the recent court decision to appoint a Chapter 11 Trustee to take over the business affairs of the company.

"Novell intends to vigorously defend the case and the interests of its Linux customers and the greater open source community. We remain confident in the ultimate outcome of the dispute."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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