Novell Challenges SCOs Unix Claims

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-05-28 Print this article Print

Novell publicly challenges SCO's assertion that it owns the copyrights and patents to Unix System V.

As the pressure mounts against the SCO Group and its crusade to protect what it sees as the violation of its intellectual property rights, Novell Inc.—which itself once owned the rights to Unix—on Wednesday publicly challenged SCOs assertion that it owns the copyrights and patents to Unix System V. In a letter to SCO CE0 Darl McBride, Novell CEO Jack Messman points out that the asset purchase agreement entered into between Novell and SCO in 1995 did not transfer these rights to SCO. Novell also asked SCO to back up its assertion that certain Unix System V code has been copied into Linux. "To Novells knowledge, the 1995 agreement governing SCOs purchase of Unix from Novell does not convey to SCO the associated copyrights. We believe it unlikely that SCO can demonstrate that it has any ownership interest whatsoever in those copyrights. Apparently you share this view, since over the last few months you have repeatedly asked Novell to transfer the copyrights to SCO, requests that Novell has rejected," Messman said in the letter.
But SCO disputed these claims in a statement released on Wednesday, in which the Lindon, Utah-based firm maintained that it owns the contract rights to the Unix operating system. "SCO has the contractual right to prevent improper donations of Unix code, methods or concepts into Linux by any Unix vendor.
"Copyrights and patents are protection against strangers. Contracts are what you use against parties you have relationships with. From a legal standpoint, contracts end up being far stronger than anything you could do with copyrights. "SCOs lawsuit against IBM does not involve patents or copyrights. SCOs complaint specifically alleges breach of contract, and SCO intends to protect and enforce all of the contracts that the company has with more than 6,000 licensees. We formed SCOsource in January 2003 to enforce our Unix rights and we intend to aggressively continue in this successful path of operation," the company said. In his letter, Novells Messman added that now is the time for SCO to substantiate its claims or "recant the sweeping and unsupported allegation made in your [recent] letter [to 1,500 global CEOs]. Absent such action, it will be apparent to all that SCOs true intent is to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about Linux in order to extort payments from Linux distributors and users," he said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel