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SCO versus Novell trial opens

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Wed Mar 10 2010, 11:59

THE LONG RUNNING court case between SCO and Novell, which could decide whether SCO implodes in Chapter 7 bankruptcy sooner rather than later, has been kicked off in a Salt Lake City, Utah US federal courtroom.

Years ago SCO started claiming that Linux infringed on Unix copyrights it claimed to own and sued IBM and then Novell as well as threatening users to make them pay for licences. Now after having lost earlier court battles, which effectively gutted the outfit's case and bank balance, but also having won an appeal in the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, SCO has seen its trial in the SCO v. Novell slander of title lawsuit finally begin.

SCO started the case off by claiming that Novell lied about owning the copyrights for the Unix operating system then collaborated with IBM to kill off SCO.

Its first witness was the former CEO of Novell, Robert Frankenberg, who said that despite Novell's claims of ownership, his intent was to flog the UNIX copyrights in a 1995 deal that's at the heart of the conflict.

SCO has claimed that IBM improperly used Unix code for improvements that made the Linux operating system a commercial competitor. It sued IBM for billions of dollars in 2003. But then Novell claimed that it, and not SCO, owned the Unix copyrights.

Novell's claim to copyright ownership rests on a 1995 agreement in which Novell sold its Unix business to the company then called Santa Cruz Operation (old SCO). That was later sold to a Linux company in Utah, Caldera, which then changed its name to SCO.

But the original agreement between Novell and old SCO had a section that said the sale did not include the copyrights. That was clear cut, yet then there were also a couple of later amendments made to the original agreement, the second of which said that SCO might be entitled to receive the Unix copyrights if it needed them.

The trial is being followed closely at Groklaw. µ


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