By: Amy Wohl (email@example.com)
Word from Novell (and Maureen O'Gara, publisher of Client Server News), that the judge in the Novell SCO case has handed down an opinion on the ownership of the UNIX and UNIXware copyrights, deciding that they do, indeed, belong to Novell.
This has an important effect, in that this gives Novell the right to permit IBM and Sequent to use the UNIX code, negating SCO's case against IBM and protecting Linux against any suits for infringement based on use of IBM contributed or derivative code.
SCO will appeal, of course, but my experience as an expert witness in several less gaudy cases has been that if there are contracts in place (however poorly written), these written documents will take precedence over people's memories of what they thought happened, what was intended, or just wishful thinking. This seems to be the case here.
If you'd like to read all the details, including the text of the judge's summary judgment, you will find them on Groklaw.net at http://www.groklaw.net/.
SCO's case against Novell for damages for competing against it with SuSE Linux still stands. Also, Novell's demand for a portion of the $20 million received by SCO from Sun and Microsoft for UNIX licenses now validated by the recognition that Novell was the owner of the UNIX copyrights.
I'd count on the fun and games to continue for a while, but unless the Denver appeals court overrides the summary judgment, this party is pretty much over.