SCO, Novell, IBM, Microsoft

“May we live in interesting times…”

On Friday last, the judge in the extraordinarily long court case brought by SCO (The SCO Group Inc. formerly the Santa Cruz Operation) against Novell gave his judgement. SCO lost.

The basics of the case, which is both complex and long-winded as only the American legal system can, was that SCO claimed they owned the copyright for UNIX and that Novell didn’t. The implications of this fairly simple claim went much deeper however. If SCO had won it could have opened the door for massive litigation against IBM and other vendors of UNIX and also had serious implications for Linux as they also claimed that Linux contained copyrighted UNIX code…

And more succinctly put by the Washington Post

Software company Novell owns the copyrights covering the Unix computer operating system, a federal judge ruled, deciding against the company that bought certain rights to Unix from Novell 12 years ago. “The bill of sale is clear: all copyrights were excluded from the transfer,” U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball wrote in his 102-page ruling. SCO Group Inc. is seeking billions of dollars in royalty payments from hundreds of companies that use the Linux computer operating system, which is modelled on Unix. The ruling means SCO probably cannot successfully sue Linux users for copyright violations.

The ruling given last week should now clear the way for the legally challenged/scared corporations of the US to use OSS/Linux with much less fear about potential law suits. This can only increase the pace of growth and adoption of these disruptive technologies.

Here’s my Recommended Reading list for this story.

Well – this looks like the main legal barriers for adoption of Linux (especially in the USA) have been removed, the SCO v IBM lawsuit is groundless and SCO will probably go bust as they will have some very BIG bills to pay.

Following note added 20:30pm (15:30 EDT) 13/08/2007:

Just before the USA markets closed I thought I’d see what the investors made of the judge’s decision. Not good. SCO (NASDAQ: SCOX) was down by a whopping 73% from $1.56 on the close Friday. It opened this morning at 0.45c and dipped during trading to a low of $0.35. Ouch….

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