Novell won't mount copyright-infringement claims over Unix

Now that it has scored a major win for Linux in its legal battle with The SCO Group Inc., Novell Inc. has no interest in becoming like the company it's just defeated and won't mount any copyright-infringement claims over Unix, a spokesman said Tuesday. "We're not interested in suing people over Unix," Novell spokesman Bruce […]

Now that it has scored a major win for Linux in its legal battle with The SCO Group Inc., Novell Inc. has no interest in becoming like the company it's just defeated and won't mount any copyright-infringement claims over Unix, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"We're not interested in suing people over Unix," Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry said. "We're not even in the Unix business anymore."

A judge Friday upheld Novell's claims to Unix copyrights that SCO said it owned. Those copyrights were the basis for SCO's highly controversial and ongoing Linux patent-infringement suit against IBM Corp.

Lowry said the ruling means "the cloud has lifted over Linux." Users and distributors of the open-source OS finally can breathe a sigh of relief that they are not in violation of Unix copyrights.

"We don't believe there is Unix in Linux," Lowry said. "We've been fighting that all along. It wouldn't be consistent for Novell to say, 'Oh gosh, now that this has been confirmed, we're going to suddenly take a different position' and sue companies for copyright infringement."

The Friday ruling doesn't mean the company's legal entanglement with SCO is over. There are still several claims before the court that will go to trial next month, and one of them involves payments SCO received from Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. for Unix licenses. If the judge rules that those companies paid SCO for Unix copyrights owned by Novell, SCO will have to pay Novell whatever it earned from those licenses, Lowry said.

There is nothing holding Novell back from suing existing Unix vendors. Even Novell's Linux-Windows interoperability deal with Microsoft does not preclude the two companies from suing each other. Lowry declined to speculate on the outcome of the outstanding claims of the case.

One thing seems fairly certain: Friday's ruling sinks SCO's case against IBM once and for all, a point Linux proponents were still celebrating Tuesday. SCO can't appeal the ruling until the trial is over, and the company has not decided if it would do so. In a statement on its Web site, SCO said it is exploring how it will proceed once the legal process of the case is concluded.

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Novell, Unix, SCO, Copyright, Licenses, Licensing, Copyright-infringement