updated 06:20 pm EDT, Thu June 10, 2010
SCO shut out of further cases
SCO was dealt a late and possibly final blow on Thursday as Judge Ted Stewart has handed Novell a declaratory judgment against SCO in court. The decision supports Novell's view that it owns key Unix copyrights and that SCO didn't need or own the copyrights for its controversial SCOsource program, which would have forced some of those using Linux to pay royalties. It further lets Novell dismiss SCO's related lawsuits against IBM and Sequent.
The judgment also places certain restrictions on SCO. As of the ruling, it can't pursue a new trial and has been denied its attempts to get a summary judgment in its favor. Judge Stewart rejected outright SCO's claims that the verdict wasn't in line with evidence, saying that a jury was convinced it had only bought rights to the UnixWare OS, not Unix itself.
"Evidently, the jury found Novell's version of facts to be more persuasive," Judge Stewart wrote. "This conclusion is well supported by the evidence. There was substantial evidence that Novell made an intentional decision to retain ownership of the copyrights."
SCO was itself called into question as its testimony provided little detail on the actual copyright transfer; many of its witnesses also had a financial incentive to claim SCO owned the copyrights.
The judgment all but shuts down SCO's cases against any company. With courts ruling that the firm doesn't own Unix copyrights, SCO can't pursue Linux distributors or those that use the open-source OS. Officials from the company haven't commented but aren't expected to have an appeal or any other legal alternative.
SCO's case is one of the longest of its kind and began in 2003, when the software developer claimed that Linux was illegally using Unix code and that it could collect royalties from or sue anyone using Linux commercially. An important loss to Novell and other setbacks led SCO to declare bankruptcy in 2007 but didn't deter continued attempts to extract royalties.
Legal critics have accused SCO of trying to prop up a struggling software business by turning to lawsuits as a primary source of income; at one point, it had tried to sue DaimlerChrysler. Microsoft was also rumored, though never directly confirmed, to be paying SCO's legal costs to prevent Linux from taking Windows market share.