How to score SCO's legal games

How to score SCO's legal games

Summary: Now SCO's got Novell in its sights, but where is the company really aiming?

TOPICS: Tech Industry

If organisations could feel grumpy about the past, Novell would have the blues so bad BB King should write the company anthem. Here is an outfit who owned corporate networking just at the point the market went stratospheric. Netware was to servers what Windows is to the desktop, and the company had an impeccable reputation for reliability and performance in an area where nothing else mattered. And they threw it all away.

It's an open secret that while Microsoft was going through its early and none too impressive experiments with networking -- Windows for Workgroups, anyone? -- it lived in fear of Novell waking up and sniffing the packets. But as the 90s wore on and the Redmond boys slowly got it right, the sleeping Utah giant stayed firmly beneath the duvet.

Then there was the Internet, which seemingly fell out of the empty sky like the Close Encounters mothership. Everyone rushed up and clambered to get aboard. Some got crushed in the panic, but Novell managed to pummel itself into the ground in a series of remarkably stupid moves, producing and withdrawing Web server products seemingly at whim. This was in keeping with the company's policy of acquisition: buying in things that seemed like a good idea at the time -- like Unix -- and failing to do anything with them except confuse the customers and lose another Salt Lakeful of dosh.

That was then. In buying SuSE Linux, Novell might be forgiven for being rather pleased with itself. A mature, well-respected, open-source distribution backed up with Novell's support and sales network seems like a good deal. Just the sort of solid base with which to create a 21st century networking company. What could go possibly happen? Madness, that's what -- but this time not of their making.

It's a fair bet they didn't expect a lawsuit from SCO. Yet here it is -- or rather, in keeping with that company's policy of driving into town and waving its shooters about, here's the threat. As part of its mid-90s, er, strategy, Novell sold Unix to SCO and included a non-competition clause in the contract. Since SCO claims that Linux is full of SCO's Unix-based intellectual property, it would seem entirely logical that any attempt by Novell to sell it would be ipso facto directly competitive. So, says SCO, once the deal goes through Novell should expect a hefty writ.

Topic: Tech Industry

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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  • excellent story
    i agree the Groklaw site is fantastic and always the news is complete as they can find.the collaboration between all is amazing.and the ones that do understand break it down to where those who lack the knowledge can understand what it all means

  • Groklaw has become an addictive necesity for the SCO v. IBM suit. aggregating and disecting, proving and disproving all aspects of this monumental event.
  • Pamela Jones deserve much praise. Although a lot of people contribute to GrokLaw, none of it would have been possible without her vision and leadership.

    And I just love it when she sticks it to them with class.

  • Groklaw reminds me of a VERY young slashdot: intelligent discussion with civilized disagreement and a healthy respect for others opinions.

    Of course, this was a slashdot long ago and far away.

    PJ has done a great job, considering she's had to move the website twice since it's inception. I have a feeling that she could actually marshall the resources of us 'geeks' into a very productive force were she so desirous. Once this SCO thing is over, I'd like to see her tackle IP reform.

    And she HAS promised a book! ;-)
  • The first article I have seen on ZDNET concerning this whole affair that actuallly demonsrtated that the reporter in question did more research than getting a few quotes from Darl Mcbride.

    Quoting one side of this argument without looking at all the evidence to the contrary opens any reporter who does the preceding, wide open to accusations of favoritism on the part of SCO.

    God knows, they have been vocal enough, yet so far their actual legal actions amount to accusing IBM of violations of contract law. They have sued by others, but so far, only that one suiit is in play and so far they have failed in any substantial way to sopport their case.

    Of course, the case currently in the news is IBM's counter suit and not SCO's at all. It seems it will take them a year and a half to gather together evidience sufficient to support their own case,

    And that, despite all their claims of self evident IP violations. Why even analysts unskilled in progarmming were able to see it at a glance and make pronouncements as to its validity.

    If accusations alone were all it took to win a legal suit, SCO would be in great shape, but since they aren't, SCO will have to come up with something that will convince both a judge and jury.

    So far there is no evidence that they can or will.

    I congratulate ZDNET on their perspicacity in finally finding someone who knows how to research both sides of a story- and who has a sense of humor too.

    A pity you couldn't have done it sooner.


  • Hey Ignorance is a blessing, but not for
  • They have found a way to bottle it. It's called "Linux".