A U.S. federal court judge has ruled that Novell, and not the SCO
Group, is the rightful owner of copyrights covering the Unix operating system, a
ruling that should have a major effect on a number of lawsuits, including SCO's
actions against Novell, IBM and Red Hat.
The 102-page ruling by Judge
Dale Kimball refuted many of SCO's claims against Novell, and seemed to remove the basis for its lawsuit against IBM.
SCO had charged that the Linux operating system was an unauthorized derivative of Unix, which it claimed to have purchased from Novell in 1995.
"The court's ruling has cut out the core of SCO's case and, as a result,
eliminates SCO's threat to the Linux community based upon allegations of
copyright infringement of Unix," Joe LaSala, Novell's senior vice president and
general counsel, told The New York Times.
The Unix operating system was developed by AT&T researchers at Bell Labs
from 1969. While it has been a long-time favourite in server and mainframe
systems, it never gained a great foothold in the personal computer business
until the Linux variant was developed in the early 1990s, and Apple started to
base their Mac OS on a version of Unix.
Figures from the open source industry also see the ruling as a boost to their
"This is a meaningful message in terms of people adopting open-source
software," James Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, told
The New York Times. "This says that Linux is a safe solution and people
can choose it with that in mind."