SCO says it's down but not out in Linux case

The SCO Group acknowledged being dealt a significant blow Friday in its lawsuit against Novell, but it indicated that it may not done fighting yet

The SCO Group acknowledged being dealt a significant blow Friday in its lawsuit against Novell but it indicated that it may not be done fighting yet.

In a short statementposted to its Web site over the weekend, SCO said it was "obviously disappointed" with Friday's district court ruling, but it noted that parts of the case are not yet resolved and hinted that it might file an appeal.

"Although the district judge ruled in Novell's favor on important issues, the case has not yet been fully vetted by the legal system and we will continue to explore our options with respect to how we move forward from here," the company said.

A U.S. district court judge ruled Friday that SCO does not own the copyrights to the Unix operating system, undermining its cases against both Novell and IBM SCO had sued IBM for unfairly using parts of the Unix code in Linux, and later sued Novell when it asserted that it was the rightful owner of the Unix copyrights.

Friday's ruling was seen by many as the death-knell in SCO's legal fight. The court told Novell that it could now force SCO to waive its lawsuit against IBM. And it told SCO that it must pay Novell most of the license revenue that SCO secured from Sun Microsystems and Microsoft for their use of Unix technologies.

"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 on Friday.

Friday's ruling addressed several motions for summary judgment filed by each party. Outstanding claims will be addressed at trial, which is scheduled for Sept. 17 according to court documents.

SCO didn't say exactly how it would proceed but it noted that not all of its claims were dismissed. Issues that remain include its accusation that Novell violated a non-compete clause between the companies that was part of a 1995 technology license agreement. Novell argues that the clause merely limited the terms of its license.

Despite the outstanding claims, observers seemed to agree that the threat to Linux posed by SCO had been severely diminished. SCO had been threatening legal action against companies using Linux if they did not agree to buy licenses from SCO to do so.

"Following this ruling, it looks as if SCO's case against IBM is all but over and CIOs can continue with their Linux adoption plans without any further fears -- at least as far as this issue is concerned," Ovum analyst Ian Brown wrote on Monday morning. "This issue should no longer influence even the most cautious user in their selection of operating system and software stack."

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James Niccolai

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