SCO Sues Novell Over Unix Copyrights

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-01-20 Print this article Print

UPDATED: The SCO Group's Linux legal fight spilled over into LinuxWorld on Tuesday when the company slammed Novell with a new copyright and business-practices lawsuit.

The SCO Group Inc. pushed its continuing legal battles over Unix into overdrive on Tuesday with a copyright and business-practices lawsuit against Novell Inc. According to the Lindon, Utah-based SCO, Novell made a bad-faith effort to interfere with SCOs rights to Unix. In a statement, SCO made a series of allegations, many of which counter recent moves by Novell over copyright issues. Novell, of Provo, Utah, in December said that it "owns the copyrights in Unix, and has applied for and received copyright registrations pertaining to Unix consistent with that position." A company spokesman said at the time that Novell had received the copyright registrations in September and October.
To read more about Novells Unix copyright claims, click here.
SCOs lawsuit, filed in Utah State court in Salt Lake City, requests preliminary and permanent injunctive relief as well as damages, SCO said. In a statement, SCO charged that Novell had made "false statements with the intent to cause customers and potential customers to not do business with SCO." It also alleged that Novell had improperly filed copyright registrations over Unix technology already copyrighted by SCO; that Novell had made "false and misleading public claims" about the ownership of the Unix copyrights; and that Novell had tried to block SCOs enforcement of its copyrights. The lawsuit requests an injunction against Novell as well as unspecified damages. "SCO takes this action today given Novells recent and repeated announcements regarding their claimed ownership of the Unix and UnixWare copyrights," said Mark Heise (partner with SCOs legal representatives Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP) in a statement. "SCO has received many questions about Novells actions from potential customers, investors and the press. Although SCO owns the Unix and UnixWare copyrights, Novells efforts to claim ownership of these copyrights has forced this action." SCO has made a number of legal threats against various segments of the Linux community. This fall, the company said it was preparing to move against corporate Linux users. When asked about the suit, Novell Chief Executive Officer Jack Messman, said: "We havent had a chance to see the paper, and we will respond to it on [Wednesday]." According to a Novell official, Novell will audiocast a press conference from LinuxWorld with Messman and former SuSE Linux CEO Richard Seibt on Wednesday morning. In the briefing, the SCO lawsuit will be addressed in detail.

SuSE and Novell resellers at a channel partner event on Tuesday evening dismissed SCOs actions, passing off the announcement as an attempt by SCO to spoil Novells first LinuxWorld as a member of the Linux community. One party-goer, the president of a Novell integrator, said that none of SCOs actions has any legal merit.

However, Blake Stowell, SCO director of public relations, said that SCO is in the legal right, in both its previous actions and with its latest lawsuit against Novell. "We had no choice," Stowell said. "Novell was making these statements that are both false and interfering with our other legal actions and our business."

Editors note: This story has been updated to include comments from Novell and SCO.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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