Can Microsoft get its $12 million back from SCO?

Summary:Microsoft spent an estimated $12 million back in 2003 to "protect" itself against potential violations to the Unix copyright, which SCO claimed it owned. Wonder if the Redmondians are going to try to get their money back, now that a judge has ruled that SCO's claims are invalid....

A judge has ruled that SCO doesn't own the Unix copyright. -- SCO's claim to which was at the crux of its threats against Linux. What does this ruling mean to Microsoft, if anything?

As my blogging colleague Dana Blankenhorn notes, the SCO ruling seemingly has no impact on Microsoft's allegations of patent violations by the Linux and open-source communities.

But industry historians may recall that Microsoft wasn't totally removed from the whole SCO-Unix-copyright matter.

Microsoft played matchmaker back in 2003 when SCO needed money to help fund its lawsuits agains IBM and various other Linux players and customers. Microsoft suggested that hedge fund BayStar Capital invest $50 million in SCO.

Microsoft also backed SCO's play to convince other vendors and customers to license SCO's technology to avoid potential infringement lawsuits. (Maybe that's where Microsoft got its patent-licensing ideas ....)

One of the first companies to snap up two SCO licenses was Microsoft, to the tune of $12 million, according to BusinessWeek. Sun Microsystems and Computer Associates also bought into SCO's plan.

I wonder if Microsoft will attempt to recoup its $12 million, now that SCO's Unix licensing strategy has been exposed as a sham? I asked the Softies for any statements they might want to make, re: the SCO matter. So far, no word back.

Update: Late on August 13, a Microsoft spokesman sent the following reply: "Unfortunately, we won't be commenting on the ruling."

Update No. 2: As Seattle Post-Intelligencer blogger Todd Bishop pointed out, there is some wording in the judge's ruling regarding who should get the royalty payments made by Microsoft (and Sun) to SCO. Bishop says the actual amount Microsoft paid to SCO is $16.75 million. The ruling makes it sound as if anyone is going to get paid back by SCO, it's going to be Novell, not Microsoft.

Topics: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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