back to article Novell keeps Unix copyrights from Microsoft

Novell has moved to quell growing concerns that it has sold Linux out to Microsoft as part of its Attachmate deal. On Wednesday, Novell chief marketing officer John Dragoon issued a short statement saying that Novell – not Microsoft – owns the copyrights on Unix. Sentence two of Dragoon's terse, three-sentence statement said …


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  1. alwarming
    Paris Hilton

    Someone please correct me...

    but isn't it like saying that Texas is not part of the United states ?

    Paris, coz she Mates the Attaché.

  2. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Time will tell.

    Money changes lots of things, especially when you need it to survive. As Tony Hancock once said in jest, "Sid, there's no limit to what you'll do when your ribs are rattling!".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    get to know attachmate

    I used to work for attachmate, before I was laid off in the Great Recession. Attachmate's absentee owners bought it for something like $500 million from its founders, then mortgaged it to the eyeballs to retrieve their stake. After that, if attachmate makes money, that's good. If it dies, it dies. This happened during the run-up to the Great Recession when banks were loaning money for ANYTHING at terrific rates.

    If these same guys have bought Novel, you can believe it was probably because it had assets they could sell or mortgage. That's the only thing driving this acquisition. Attachmate is a conglomerate of legacy businesses. They don't innovate (much). They don't grow, because the absentee owners don't give a rip for the software business. The software team at attachmate are wonderful folks. But the owners are everything you loathe about finance people.

  4. Mikel

    Not going through?

    I think somebody's going to see that Novell is undervalued here and start a bidding war.

  5. Giles Jones Gold badge


    Can't all the open sourcers chip in and buy them from Novell?

    Mark Shuttleworth would be better chipping in some cash instead of buying a luxury flat. If Unix copyrights ended up in the hands of a patent troll then there would be a lot of trouble for Linux, Solaris and OSX.

    1. Vic

      Re: Unix

      > Can't all the open sourcers chip in and buy them from Novell?

      What for?

      > Mark Shuttleworth would be better chipping in some cash instead of buying a luxury flat.

      Mark Shuttleworth has nothing to do with this - saving that he's rich, and could probably afford the deal if he were motivated to do so.

      But there's no business advantage for him.

      > If Unix copyrights ended up in the hands of a patent troll then there

      > would be a lot of trouble for Linux, Solaris and OSX.

      No, there wouldn't.

      Many years ago, a copyright troll named SCO tried to make trouble using this method. The first hurdle they had to overcome - and failed to do so - was to demonstrate that they owned the copyrights to Unix at all.

      In many ways, it is a shame that this case went first, because it leads to so many hand-wringing posts on Internet fora about how dreadful it's going to be when someone richer than SCO owns some of the Unix copyrights.

      The next case that SCO needs to deal with - which is currently stayed pending the outcome of the SCO vs. Novell case - is about whether or not there is any AT&T-derived[1] Unix code in Linux anyway. Discovery in that case was long, tortuous, and expensive. SCO found *fuck all*. IBM have a lot of counterclaims that will devastate anything that makes it out of the Novell case.

      There is no more mileage to be had from trolling these ancient Unix copyrights around. The FUD worked for some time - but now pretty much everyone knows how baseless were SCO's claims. There is no AT&T Unix in Linux.

      What we should be worrying about is the 882 patents that were sold to CPTN - but even those are probably harmless. The implicit patent grant in GPLv2 is probably sufficient, should those patents read on anything in Linux, and estoppel should prevent MS from actually asserting them against Linux users. There is still some uncertainty there - but it is likely that the patent transfer has more to do with settling the WordPerfect suit than anything else.


      [1] There is a fair bit of BSD-derived Unix in Linux, but that is not covered by these copyrights[2], and is properly licenced anyway.

      [2] AT&T's slack approach to copyright notices is one of the reasons why so much of Unix is no longer protectable by copyright anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        All software patents are always dangerous

        Especially when they are broadly defined. In case you might not remember, Amazon did a lot of damage patenting that 1-click nonsense. Microsoft has always managed to extract money from companies selling Linux-based products by licensing patents without ever specifying what those patents cover. The only notable exception was TomTom who settled after telling the world what Microsoft's pretenses were. See for a very short but eye-opening lecture on this matter.

  6. amehaye

    Who cares about the copyright

    It is the 650 software patents Novell sold to Microsoft that concerns me. More ammo to that gigantic anti-Linux patent troll.

  7. homercycles

    Never been a better time for Debian

    Since the Novell/Microsoft deal four years ago, Shuttleworth increasingly using Ubuntu as some bizarre plaything, Mandriva's never ending financial uncertainties, and Fedora's short life-cycles with low maintenance periods, we may as well all just go back to the big grand-daddy of them all now and stop messing with the lesser offshoots and poor imitations, and just use Debian. It's the one distro you can count always to remain pure and never become somebody else's pawn. And with Debian Squeeze due this Christmas/New Year, it's the perfect time to vote with our distro-switching!

    (FYI: I'm currently using Ubuntu 10.04 but its future as a normal person's O/S now seems uncertain)

  8. Tom 7 Silver badge

    But but but

    who in effect controls Attachmate. They are supposedly owned by some investment companies so presumably Balmer can pop round for a cup of tea and point out how Attachmates investments in MS shares are so much better off with people continuing patent/copyright bullying with no eveidence.

  9. Richard 33

    What do Unix copyrights have to do with Linux?

    If something had been copied, I'm sure the SCO farce would have uncovered it by now.

    Unix is of historical interest for some Linux users, but the Unix copyrights have nothing whatsoever to do with Linux.

  10. D. M
    Paris Hilton

    But wait

    It's like saying "we sold everything to Microsoft, but we don't worry about it."

    Everything has a price and when the price is right, they will sell their children/mother without thinking.

    PH, 'cos she has a price too.

  11. Jay 2

    Thank Tux for that!

    I was a bit concerned that something UNIX-like might make its way to the Microsofties when this news was first announed. Hopefully this should keep the existing Win, Linux, UNIXes status quo more or less in place.

  12. Don Mitchell

    Why would MS care?

    It's bad enough that Microsoft is still using 1990's operating system technology. Why would they want to own 1970's operating system technology?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "they want to own 1970's operating system technology?"

      1) Monopolists all

      2) It's much better

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    You can..

    trust folk at Novell to tell the truth. After all, they are the "hire for cash" sweetiepies that cut the "patent fear" deal with MS. They also pushed Mono and destroyed a perfectly good Linux distro _ SuSE and gave us that crapola openSUSE with its consistently faulty package installer after busting Yast, dropped KDE for Gnome to keep the Zimians happy and ...whatever.

    Imagine the chap at openSUSE bitchin about Ubuntu not making a "contribution" to Linux. If they all made "contributions" like Novell has, Linux would be kaput.

    Tits up is too good for them.

  14. Lars Silver badge

    All software patents are always dangerous

    Yes, they are, because they are so expensive to defend. Very much a type of "Russian" law where you have to prove you are innocent.

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