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Novell Wins! SCO Loses!

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Ding dong! The SCO is dead. Which old SCO? The wicked SCO! Ding dong! The wicked SCO is dead!

It’s true. After just more than seven years of SCO lawsuits, SCO has lost its last real chance of causing Linux and the companies that support it — IBM; Novell, and Red Hat — any real trouble.

In a U.S. District Court decision delivered on Mar. 30, 2010, the jury confirmed that Novell, not SCO, own Unix’s copyrights. Without the copyrights, SCO has nothing.

Had the decision gone the other way, I was afraid that SCO could continue to annoy Linux with its bogus Linux copyright violation claims. Anyone with any sense knew that there was no Unix code in Linux, except, of course, for any code that SCO itself placed there. And even that wasn’t code that mattered.

No, the only real purpose of SCO’s lawsuits was to spread anti-Linux FUD on the behalf of its financial backers such as Microsoft.

Now, tens of millions in wasted legal fees later, the jury has decided what those of us who have followed the SCO saga like a hawk knew ages ago: SCO never owned Unix’s IP (intellectual property) in the first place, so it had never had a leg to stand on its rounds of anti-Linux lawsuits.

To quote Pamela Jones, editor of Groklaw and the world’s foremost expert on SCO’s legal saga, "Thank you, Novell, for never giving up, and never giving in. Those of us who love to use Linux will forever be thankful to you."

I second her statement. While some Linux fans have real trouble with Novell thanks to its partnerships with Microsoft, they should never forget that Novell ended up doing the heavy legal lifting needed to defeat SCO’s Linux attacks.

You’d think this would be the end of it all — but you’d be wrong.

According to a report in the Salt Lake City Tribune, former U.S. District Judge Edward Cahn, the trustee for SCO’s bankruptcy filed in Delaware, said that "SCO intends to continue its lawsuit against IBM, in which the computer giant is accused of using Unix code to make the Linux operating system a viable competitor, causing a decline in SCO’s revenues. The copyright claims are gone, but we have other claims based on contracts."

I can’t imagine what Cahn is thinking. There are some lingering issues over SCO’s, formerly Caldera’s, contract with IBM concerning Project Monterrey, a stillborn effort to create a Unix that would run on both Intel and POWER processors, but when I think about all the money that’s been poured down the rathole of SCO litigation, I can’t imagine that SCO or its attorneys ever getting out of the red with anything that might result from those matters.

In any case, no matter what Cahn or anyone else might think, SCO no longer has even a feeble claim that can be made against Linux. SCO is dead.

A version of this story first appeared in ComputerWorld.

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