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Judgment likely to be a stake through UNIX vendor's heart

The SCO Group’s latest claims in its longstanding tussle with Novell were shot down last Thursday (PDF), with presiding federal district judge Dale A. Kimball affirming his original $2.5m judgment against SCO, plus an additional $958,709 in interest.

Many of SCO’s claims against Novell, which include accusations of copyright infringement, breach of contract, and unfair competition, were dismissed with prejudice and without the possibility of appeal.

Judge Kimball originally ordered SCO to pay $2.5m to Novell last July, for improperly claiming and collecting royalties on parts of the Unix operating system.  In his order last week, an additional $918,122 was tacked on last week as “prejudgment interest”, with an additional $489 per day from August 29 to November 20 of this year.

SCO’s filed its original suit in 2004, where it accused Novell of asserting ownership over Unix SVRx code that it previously acquired. A court found those claims to be untrue and sided with Novell however, noting that the original transaction – dubbed an “Asset Purchase Agreement” – amounted to nothing more than a partial transfer of ownership and did not include Unix copyrights.

Using its mistaken claims of ownership, SCO introduced the SCOSource licensing program and filed lawsuits against companies like IBM, DaimlerChrysler, and AutoZone, among others, for employing unlicensed SCO intellectual property in their Linux deployments.

Kimball’s November 20 ruling orders both SCO and Novell to release SCO’s infringement claims against SVRx licensees, and strikes down SCO’s 2003 amendments to a SVRx deal originally between Novell and Sun Microsystems.

It is unknown as to whether or not Novell will be able to collect its winnings, however, as SCO seemed to bet its future on predicted royalties earnings and its claims against Novell. To that end, the company’s future is uncertain: it is nearly out of cash and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2007, and at the time even its management doubted the company’s ability to survive.





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