In a long-awaited
ruling in the case filed by the SCO Group against Novell Networks in which ownership of the Unix OS was in dispute, a U.S. District Court Judge has ruled in favor of Novell. The Unix OS was invented in the late 1960s by AT&T's Unix Systems Laboratories.
In 1995 AT&T sold its Unix intellectual property interests to Novell Networks. Novell in turn then sold its Unix intellectual property rights to the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO), and Caldera International acquired Unix rights for OpenServer and UnixWare from SCO. Caldera group is now known as the SCO Group.
SCO Group/Caldera initially sued IBM in 2003, claiming that IBM had misappropriated SCO’s trade secrets and engaged in unfair competition, breach of contract, etc. The suit centered around allegations that IBM had illegally copied code from the Unix OS and used it in an open-source Linux OS on IBM computers. At that time IBM had a license from SCO to ship its own version of Unix, known as AIX.
SCO Group also claimed that IBM’s use of Linux was an unauthorized derivative of Unix, since SCO Group believed it had exclusive copyright ownership of the Unix OS after its 1995 purchase of the Unix intellectual property from Novell.
The Judge’s determination that the UNIX copyrights are still owned by Novell likely short circuits SCO Group’s lawsuit against IBM for violation of SCO Unix OS proprietary rights.
The recent ruling also likely clears the way for development of the Unix OS for open-source software platforms such as Linux.
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