back to article Novell (not SCO) owns UNIX, says jury

A federal jury has decided that UNIX is owned by Novell - not SCO. But no, this does not mark the end of SCO's epic legal battle against the Linux industry. On Tuesday, the AP reports, after a trial in Salt Lake City, Utah, a jury ruled that Novell still controls the copyrights to UNIX despite a 15-year-old deal that …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Magnethead

    "It's a setback," SCO trial lawyer said.....

    ....before launching a fresh attack upon a defenceless dead horse.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: "It's a setback," SCO trial lawyer said.....

      Anyone reminded of a certain Black Knight?

      "'Tis but a scratch; I've had worse!"

      I'm betting stupid b*stards will still be threatening to bite IBM's legs off even after all their cases have been thrown out!

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson


        immortal joke

  2. Anonymous Coward

    It's only a flesh wound

    One of hopefully many more to come.

    1. M Gale
      Thumb Up

      Re: It's only a flesh wound

      ..come back here, I'll bite your legs off!

  3. Herby

    When will they die?

    Soon, I hope!

    It seems like this is a game of "Whack an SCO". It keeps popping back up after being throughly whacked. Is the game rigged?

    1. Franklin


      My bet on when they'll die? Somewhere just before the heat death of the universe.

      That is, if they don't claim a patent on entropy in an attempt to get a judge to postpone said heat death until after the litigation is concluded.

  4. John F***ing Stepp

    There are a lot of companies that subsist on lawsuits

    Perhaps SCO should try learning how do do this right.

    I mean, bad enough to be a bottom feeder but a three stooges style bottom feeder?

    And I am old enough to remember when SCO meant half way decent software.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      This isn't the SCO you are thinking of.

      There have been two unrelated Companies called SCO.

      Also once MS had a UNIX (Xenix?) based on their AT&T Version 7 licence (1980), and sold it to various people, including SCO (founded in 1979). SCO released their port to the IBM PC in September 1983.

      In 1987 Microsoft transferred ownership of Xenix to SCO in an agreement that left Microsoft owning 25% of SCO. This is the "old SCO" Santa Cruz Operation.

      The current SCO is actually not related, Caldera did buy a lot of SCO assets in 2001, and then the original SCO became Tarantella and Claldera became SCO group., only being separate from parent company in about 2005. Tarantella was sold to Sun in 2005., which is now part of Oracle.

      So really Oracle is SCO as you know it. Caldera aka SCO group appear to have done nothing of value in the last 5 years.

      In related irony MS-DOS (The people that sold the original SCO, Xenix) was a clone on CP/M. The IBM PC version of CP/M was CP/M86 and then DR DOS. Digital Research's CPM & DR DOS was bought by Novell who sold it (perceiving it of no value) to Caldera in 1996.

      Caldera aka SCO Group would be on firmer ground sue Microsoft for infringing FAT, DOS, Windows 7 Batch scripts, Win7 / NT Console etc since they appear to own the original CP/M & DR DOS (CP/M 86) that MS's DOS and FAT is based on.

      1. Captain Thyratron

        Aptly named?

        Funny that they were named "Caldera". Isn't that what geologists call the crater that's left over when a huge volcano erupts such a tremendous volume of its resources into a great plume of hot air that the volcano collapses into its own vacuous interior?

  5. jake Silver badge


    Is this even relevant anymore? Aside from the side-show aspect, of course.

    SCO, and all it's corporate officers will never be trusted by anyone in the IT industry ever again. Even if, somehow, they manage to get a judge & jury to give 'em what they want, would they be able to sell it? Somehow, I doubt it. UNIX[tm] is a footnote in history, I can't remember the last time I worked on an actual UNIX[tm] system (except the one in my machine room ...).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its not really about Unix

      If SCO can prove they own the copyrights then it allows them to basically sue IBM for leaking copyright code into Linux - not that SCO have been able to show any infringing code in Linux but that doesn't seem to stop them.

      Then of course if that code has been leaked into Linux then Linux is compromised and SCO will then start chasing Linux users for licences to use "their" code.

      So ask who'd really like Linux to be stopped dead in its tracks.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'Stunning lack of evidence'

        Their problem is that, even if they did own the unix copyrights, they have been unable to show that anything leaked into linux inappropriately. The judge commented on their 'stunning lack of evidence' in an earlier ruling, but it wasn't quite enough to get the case thrown out.

      2. Peter Simpson 1

        There's a significant difference...

        ...between "leaking copyrighted UNIX code into Linux" and contributing code to Linux, which *your company* originally wrote to be used in *your version* of UNIX. IBM writes and awful lot of code. To claim that they cannot re-use it in or contribute it to another operating system is just silly. It's code IBM wrote, they should be able to do whatever they want with it, including give it away or release it under GPL.

        tSCOg's claim that there is UNIX code in Linux is based on their warped idea of what constitutes UNIX code. Their claim is that once a "method or concept" has been used in UNIX, it cannot be used anywhere else.

    2. Volker Hett
      Jobs Halo

      I'm working on one all day long

      It's called OS-X :-)

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Volker Hett

        True enough, OSX is allowed to call itself a UNIX[tm], as are several others. However, it is not labeled or sold as UNIX[tm], and neither are the others.

  6. Red_Five

    How is it possible...

    ...that this lame dog hasn't been taken out back and shot?

  7. SilverWave

    What colour is the sky on your world?

    The people associated with this are becoming a laughing stock.

    Novell retained the copyrights.

    "That's it man, game over man, game over!"

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      are becoming ?

      Nay, my good sir. They were a laughing stock last millenia.

      Now they have become distasteful lepers.

      Soon they will become shambling zombies.

      Maybe then someone will finally blow their brains out.

  8. mittfh

    Horse Dead a Flogging

    Rearrange the above to form a well known phrase. If SCO are filing for bankruptcy protection, then their legal team must have the mindset of a compulsive gambler.

    do {

    echo "I'll just take out another loan, I'll just get another credit card, I *know* I'm going to win the next bet / round / case!"

    goToCourt(); # Lose the bet / round / case

    } while (!bankrupt)

    1. Rumcajz

      got a bug in there

      I'll just fix it for you:


      } while (breathing)

  9. Dave Murray


    Eventually the lawyers will have picked the last of the flesh from the rotting carcass that is left of SCO.

    1. Paul Shirley

      7 years but finally the lawyers are in the firing line

      What you forget is SCO's lawyers jumped on board as partners in the scam right at the start. Despite attempts to disentangle themselves when the sheer extent of SCO lies became undeniable they've been well and truly screwed for it.

      Last guesstimate I saw was around $30mil in the red on the case around a year ago, they were paid upfront and spent it all long ago, meanwhile they're on the hook all the way to appeal. The pain is just starting for Bois,Shiller & Flexner, IBM show no sign of voluntarily ending their case - which is now IBM's counterclaims against SCO and not much else - a couple more years expense. IBM will be going for costs and only the lawyers will be around to pay, given their sharp practice throughout they're likely to get hammered badly.

      It's been a good day but the best is still to come, when the legal support services that allowed this travesty to last so long finally see retribution. We'll be safe from this sort of extortion scam only when the lawyers see its not safe to get this involved.

      1. Brett Brennan 1

        When suing IBM... has to remember the anti-trust suit from the '80s, where IBM outspent and outwaited the entire US Department of Justice. Obviously the SCO lawyers have forgotten their history: IBM can draw this thing out to the point where they'll not just own SCO, but the entire state of Utah...

  10. Mike Echo

    Thanks, Darl

    Darl McBride, the business legend, started all this crap and the idjits who took the helm after his departure should have learnt from his mistakes. But they didn't. Chickens -> home -> roost.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    SCO gives scum a bad name.

  12. Clockworkseer

    Still going....

    The only cloud on the horizon is that SCO still have a claim for performance in the works. ie, since the original contract says that they can ask for the copyrights if they need em, they want the judge to order novell to give them the copyrights anyway.

    What a pity Darl said, in open court that they didn't need the copyrights.

  13. Richard Plinston

    The SCO Group is not SCO

    Novell sold the UnixWare business to Santa Cruz Operation (SCO). SCO already produced Xenix which they had bought from Microsoft and had developed this into OpenServer.

    A completely different company called Caldera bought the UnixWare and OpenServer business from SCO and also bought the name and called themselves The SCO Group in order to cause confusion about who they really were.

    Santa Cruz Operation renamed themselves Tarantella and were bought by Sun, then Oracle.

    I always found Santa Cruz Operation to be a reasonable company and I worked with both UnixWare and OpenServer.

    While I did buy a copy of Caldera Linux this was before they became evil.

    1. Bill Karwin

      Slight correction

      OpenServer was not based on Xenix, except for a few devices drivers that were ported over.

      Xenix was derived from AT&T System 7 UNIX, circa 1979. Microsoft combined the AT&T code with BSD UNIX code. SCO developed it further and ported it to the IBM PC. I was a junior engineer at SCO in 1991, and I did some work on the last release of SCO Xenix 2.3.4.

      Around 1989, concurrently with late-stage Xenix work, SCO licensed a new set of source code for System V UNIX 3.2.0 directly from AT&T, and developed Open Desktop (ODT) from that code. Later they called it OpenServer. This product was the commercial successor to Xenix, but code-wise they had only the slightest of commonality.

      All Xenix code was ultimately removed, so that SCO would not have to continue paying royalties to Microsoft.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Slight correction(s) ...

        "Xenix was derived from AT&T System 7 UNIX, circa 1979."

        Microsoft's "Xenix" *was* MaBell UNIX[tm], pure and uncut ... MaBell didn't want to get into the retail software business, and microsoft saw a potential cash cow and payed enough to become the go-between. Thankfully, MS was a couple years too early ... And now that Dave Cutler's in charge of OS development at Microsoft, there is no way in hell that MS is going to "embrace" un*x ... Dave's probably the best OS guy on the planet, even though he absolutely hates the UNIX[tm] model ... IMO, the only reason Bill Gates hired him is so he wouldn't come up with his own OS, and thus take over the planet ...

        "Microsoft combined the AT&T code with BSD UNIX code."

        Nope. MS just licensed the UNIX[tm] source, and then sub-leased it without doing anything to enhance it. AT&T and BSD were swapping code long before MS got involved.

        "All Xenix code was ultimately removed, so that SCO would not have to continue paying royalties to Microsoft."

        From what I remember, SCO bought the Xenix name/trademark from Microsoft, and then tried to re-write the MaBell code to get out from under the MaBell copyright restrictions. SCO *did* use BSD in the re-write of Xenix, which is probably where you are getting the MS/BSD connection.

        Please note that the SCO we are discussing in these two messages has absolutely nothing to do with the prats involved in the lawsuit.

        1. Bill Karwin

          Thanks jake

          Thanks for the additional info. I agree, "The SCO Group" are a bunch of worthless litigants who have no business being in the tech field. I live in Santa Cruz, and I have a lot of friends who worked for SCO over the years. We all think the company has become a pariah.

          1. jake Silver badge

            "SCO" good; tSCOg, not so much.

            I should have added that the original SCO's port of UNIX[tm]'s original PDP C & assembler to the brain-dead 8088 was a masterful job. Many of us in the industry thought it could not be done nearly as well as they pulled it off. If anyone reading this has one of the original SCO Xenix programmers on their staff ... GIVE 'EM A RISE! You aren't paying them enough :-)

            (No, that doesn't include me ... I was wrestling with BSD at the time ... most of us in the BSD world looked on SCO Xenix as BSD's somewhat insane & slightly neurotic little brother. Looking back, though, it was a damn fine hack. Hindsight's 20/20.)

  14. gratou
    Gates Horns

    Who pays SCO's bills?

    The jury ruling is certainly a blow to SCO - which has sought bankruptcy protection as fight to keep itself alive without any real revenues - but it's case against IBM is still pending. "It's a setback," SCO trial lawyer said of the ruling, "but it's not over." ®

    How can they be bankrupt and still be able to have this hugely costly law suit? Follow the money I say. ... to Redmond.

  15. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    2 million to go

    SCO is currently run by Judge Cahn, but he needs approval from the bankruptcy court to pay anyone. So far this has not been a barrier to Cahn paying SCO's bankruptcy law firms and his own law firm. Judge Cahn used the right to argue about copyrights SCO never received as collateral for a loan for up to two million dollars from the former management of the SCO group. He has not spent it all yet. When he has given as much as possible to his lawyers, he will default on the loan and the virtual collateral goes to Ralph Yarro and his friends.

    SCO (currently in chapter 11 bankruptcy) will go into chapter 7 bankruptcy. This means that anything that Cahn could not sell gets sold off and the tiny proceeds are divided between the people SCO owes money to: Microsoft, SCO's expert witnesses, SCO's pet journalist, Novell, the local pizza delivery service and everyone else daft enough to give SCO credit in 2007.

    Zombie SCO's brain will be transplanted into Yarro's SNCP (Suing Novell Capital Partners?). He can keep Boies Schiller Flexner (SCO vs IBM+world+dog lawyers) to their agreement and have them argue with IBM all the way through to the supreme court without getting another pay day (unless they win ;-).

    The jury has decided that the copyrights to Unix did not transfer from Novell to SCO. Next up, Judge Stewart decides if the copyrights should have transfered. After that, the remaining disputes are still on hold by order of the bankruptcy court while SCO puts it finances in order. Judge Cahn has so far been unable to determine decisively what SCO's finances are, so I am sure he can drag that out as long as he wants.

    If SCO won the lottery, they would still have to deal with the arbitration with SUSE in Germany, IBM's counter claims, Red Hat's complaint and perhaps a few more. SCO could argue about breach of contract by IBM, but they have made no progress on that front in the last 7 years. They could say their code is illegally distributed in Linux, but they have never provided convincing evidence to back those claims (and they cannot say it in Germany because they have already been found guilty of slander there). Even if some copied code does magically appear, SCO (née Caldera) gave everyone a license when they distributed Linux with the GNU Public Licence.

  16. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    God bless SCO...

    ... for delivering tech-related comedic material across generations. May SCO live (and be thwarted) forever! Who needs the Looney Tunes when you have SCO vs the rest of the world?

  17. Nick Kew

    The Darkside

    Novell under current management is benign. But this could raise its value to some hedge fund who thinks there's real gold out there for someone more competent than SCO.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gates Horns

    @Flocke Kroes

    Nice summation. Is that just his name or is he *really* a judge? He does not sound exactly impartial.

    Bad Billy as it's hard to believe that Redmond has *no* involvement in this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Could just as well be...

      ...Steve Jobs. Apple is fighting a battle on two fronts: Linux and Windows. Why not try to cripple Linux and leave you free to concentrate on taking down Windows.

      But much more likely is it really is just SCO Group on their own.

    2. Marcus Aurelius

      Judge Edward N Cahn (or more accurately was, since he retired) a real Judge.

  19. flying_walrus

    re: caldera

    >A completely different company called Caldera bought the UnixWare

    >and OpenServer business from SCO...

    which company (caldera) had just been spun off from...

    (wait for it...)


  20. M Gale

    Interesting.. does this mean that Novell has the power to certify Suse as a 'real' Unix? Considering the whole thing about GNU not being, err, Unix.. this could prove entertaining.

    1. fandom


      In the first place bacause Linux isn't Unix but, mainly, because Novell doesn't own the Unix trademark

    2. Lars Silver badge

      M Gale & fandom

      Unix is a trademark owned bye whoever but not SCO.

      Linux could bye the rights to use that trademark. But what would be the use of that. It does not matter any more.

      Linux is Linux, Aix is Aix, Solaris is Solaris and so on.

      And they are all Unix like. Unix is also a standard, cannot now remember if it is ECMA or ISO, and even that does not matter.

      You do a "ls -l" or "ps" or "df" and you will get about the same output. And now you say, yes but there are different shells, and yes again they are all Unix like shells.

      Unix is like a philosophy, a good one, still very much alive, and the best so far.

      This SCO thing has been like a soap opera of greed and stupidity.

      Has it harmed Linux, yes, to some extent, but certainly no way as much as planned.

      Has SCO gained anything, certainly nothing as a company, but I do not doubt some persons within SCO have made some money.

      Have the lawyers gained anything, CETRAINLY, and to try not to be unfair, some deserve it, no doubt.

      And yes, Pamela Jones has been superb in collecting everything related, never forgetting anything. No group of lawyers could have managed the same.

      She is a sort of "open source" like Linux, where outstanding quality is achieved bye " ".

      And you can fill in the blanks if you know them. ,

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Its not yet, not by a long way ...

    Only the jury part of the trail is over, there are some issues that the judge has still to be decided.

    One of SCOG's lawyers (Mr Singer I think) has announced that they are going to try to convince the judge to assign SCO the copyrights that they don't have. This is on the basis of the APA which includes a clause that states that novell must transfer any copyrights that SCOG needs to perform its business. However there are a few minor hurdles that Mr Singer and SCOG are going to have to get over first of all:

    1. Darl McBride (SCOG's ex-CEO) stated under oath that SCOG did not need the copyrights for its business.

    2. SCOG orginally stated that the copyrights where required for SCOsource (SCOGs extortion programme) which did not exsist when the APA was signed, and hence is probably excluded from the APA provisions.

    3. Mr Singer stated in court and to the jury that SCOsource is "dead" as a consequence of the trail.

    4. SCOG has to clearly identify what copyrights it requires, it cannot simply demand all of them.

    The judge gave every indication that he was leaning heavily in SCOGs favour, but this lot might be a bit much even for him to swallow.

    BTW, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to Pamela Jones and the rest of the Groklaw regulars for all their efforts over the last seven years; they have undoubtedly made an invaluable contribution to this whole saga.

    1. Marcus Aurelius


      5. The contract was with the Original SCO (Tarentella) and SCO have to prove there has been a transfer of the right to ask for copyrights.

      I get the impression that the judge gave SCO every chance possible to minimise grounds for appeal.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Moral

    The moral of this story is: If you're going to change your business model to one based purely on licensing IP you'd better make sure it's your IP to license in the first place.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    The subject tonight on intervention is:

    Litigation. "SCO just can't stop" , a tearful family member blubbers. "SCO's weekend chipping has turned into a real problem." "SCO's sold everything to support its disgusting habit", says neighbor Joe Mandrake, "More for us, but it was never meant to be like this."

    A groggy and clearly unrational SCO replied: "Wha?"

  24. D. M

    Monty Python be proud

    I bet they can sue SCO for coping The Black Knight without permission.

    On a more serious note, it is clear who has been funding SCO (it is not that hard to see who hates Linux).

  25. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    I've had MS 'partners' at trade shows warn me that we could be sued because we sell a version of our app on Linux.

    I don't know where they got the idea that end users of an OS could be sued if the maker violates a copyright, but if that's true then there are a lot more MS users and they have been convicted more times.

  26. Poor Coco

    Ah, memories...

    I was visiting Salt Lake City at the beginning of 2007. The Tribune had an article highlighting the most and least profitable Utah businesses. The worst of the worst? SCO, natch.

    Never underestimate the human capacity for stupidity. SCO's insistence at beating this thoroughly dead equine is a marvelous example of human stupidity at its nadir.

  27. Paul RND*1000

    Is this what watching boxing was like...

    ...before they limited the number of rounds in a match?

  28. Joe User

    A permanent solution to SCO

    Try a wooden stake through the heart.

  29. sisk

    Not over???

    Is this lawyer really that deluded? Not only is it over, but it's been over for years. They're like a guy with a knife in the throat still waving a blade around weakly as they fall to the ground. They're dead, they just don't know it yet, and they have basically no chance of hurting anyone any more. You'd think they'd cut their losses.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like