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SCO & Novell: Game, set and match

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Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah finally granted Novell’s request for declaratory judgment and ruled against SCO‘s last frantic attempts to keep any of its claims going. Or, to quote Pamela Jones, editor of Groklaw and top expert on SCO’s endless anti-Linux lawsuits: "The door has slammed shut on the SCO litigation machine."

It only took seven years to put an end to a case that never had any basis in reality in the first place. In its last-gasp attempt, SCO demanded a new trial on the basis that the "jury simply got it wrong" when it ruled in late March that SCO has no rights whatsoever to Unix’s IP (intellectual property). But, as Judge Ted Stewart wrote in his memorandum (PDF) denying SCO’s demand for a new trial, "The jury could have rejected the testimony of SCO’s witnesses for a number of reasons, including their lack of involvement in drafting the APA (Asset Purchase Agreement), the fact that there was little testimony on any actual discussions concerning the transfer of copyrights, or that many of the witnesses had a financial interest in the litigation." Therefore, "The Clerk of the Court is directed to close this case forthwith."

Of course, SCO could still appeal even this result, but there’s no longer any real point in SCO fighting on. The facts of the case are now established in the court’s decisions. There’s nothing of substance left to fight over.

What does all this mean? SCO itself, once a proud Unix and Linux vendor, will soon finish its slide into bankruptcy and never be seen again. The few customers left of its flagship operating systems, OpenServer and UnixWare, should stop waiting for a miracle to happen and move on to another operating system. SCO’s headlong charge into destruction has left little way in the support for their customers anyway. Besides, now that the court has ruled that SCO has no IP rights in Unix, I don’t see anything of any value left in either operating system.

Novell, which has been flirting with the idea of finding a buyer, is looking more valuable than ever after this last court result. While the company hasn’t done particularly well, its uncontested ownership of Unix combined with Novell’s new partnership with VMware makes it much more attractive to would-be buyers.

For all that some free software fans can’t stand Novell because of its Microsoft partnerships, when push came to shove, it was Novell that took on the hard, dull work of defending Linux against SCO.

Novell has won game, set and match against SCO. Their future looks bright. SCO? It has no future. Good riddance.

A version of this story first appeared in ComputerWorld.

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