The SCO Group on Friday once again reiterated that it is the only rightful owner of the Unix System V source code and all related copyrights.
The question of the copyright transfer is clarified in Amendment No.2 to the asset purchase agreement between SCO and Novell, dated October 1996, SCO CEO Darl McBride said in a media teleconference on Friday. That amendment agreement came to his attention on Thursday afternoon, he said.
“SCO reaffirms our position that portions of the Unix System V code are found in Linux. In addition, significant portions of derivative works of Unix System V code are found in Linux,” he said.
The news that SCO found this amendment, which appears to strengthen its legal position with regard to enforcing its Unix rights, follows a 29 percent surge in the companys share price on the Nasdaq Exchange on Thursday.
The gains in SCOs share price were less pronounced on Friday following the announcement of the amendment covering copyright. As of 1:48 p.m. EDT, SCOs share price had risen $0.38 or 4.46 percent to $8.90 on the Nasdaq Exchange on trade of just over 500,000 shares.
Asked by eWEEK on Friday about the possible association between the two events, McBride said the call he received about the amended agreement came in the afternoon after the majority of the trades that had pushed the share price higher had already taken place. “I do not know what to attribute that rise to.
“I can tell you that the call I got that we had found some of this information with respect to the copyright came in the afternoon, well past when a lot of the change and what was going on there had passed. I cant comment as to why those shares would have been going up. I also did not sell or buy any SCO shares on Thursday and havent seen any reports about anybody else in this company participating,” he said.
A spokesman for the Securities and Exchange Commission told eWEEK on Friday that it was too early to comment as to whether any complaints had been filed in this regard or whether the SEC would pursue the matter.
McBride on Friday also addressed the attack by Novell, which last week asserted that SCO did not own the Unix System V copyright and that Unix copyrights had not transferred to SCO as part of the SCO/Novell asset sale. “By these and through other statements, Novell asserted that it owned the Unix System V copyright. Novell does not own these copyrights, which were properly transferred from Novell to SCO as part of the asset sale,” he said.
SCO is the only rightful owner of the Unix System V source code and related copyrights, he said. “Today we are restating that SCO owns the Unix operating system along with all of the contracts, claims and copyrights associated with Unix,” he said.
For its part, Novell—which recently challenged SCOs claims to Unix patent and copyright ownership and demanded that SCO substantiate its allegations that Linux infringed SCOs intellectual property rights—released a statement Friday saying it received Amendment No.2 to the 1995 SCO-Novell Asset Purchase Agreement from SCO last night.
“To Novells knowledge, this amendment is not present in Novells files. The amendment appears to support SCOs claim that ownership of certain copyrights for Unix did transfer to SCO in 1996. The amendment does not address ownership of patents, however, which clearly remain with Novell. Novell reiterates its request to SCO to address the fundamental issue Novell raised in its May 28 letter: SCOs still unsubstantiated claims against the Linux community,” the company said.
With regard to the Unix patents, SCO senior vice president Chris Sontag said SCO had never claimed ownership of the Unix patents, but rather that it had rights to these patents dating back to AT&T for use within its business. These were the same rights that Novell had and “given the fact that none of the actions we have taken so far have any relation to patents, it really is not a concern of ours,” he said.
McBride said SCO has also begun to show parts of the violating code to unnamed parties under non disclosure agreements (NDA), and the initial reviewers “appear to be coming to the same conclusion that we have. Namely that SCOs Unix source code has made its way into Linux,” McBride said.
SCO has designated the month of June to show parts of the offending code to appropriate parties as it wants to understand and be responsive to customer concerns. To that end it reiterated its view that Linux users needed to obtain legal opinions from their own counsel to guide their actions.
“We expect to hear a range of customer issues over the coming month, and we will make every reasonable effort to address these customer concerns,” McBride said.
But some of the parties who started receiving the NDAs this month say they are completely unacceptable. So far, the criticism revolves around the fact that SCO will determine exactly what code it shows; any dispute over potential disagreements about whether information under the NDA was disclosed would have to be resolved in Utah courts; and, lastly, any information that SCO shares with those agreeing to the NDA can not be discussed, even if it is public information or the person is aware of it before SCO shows it to them.
Senior members of the open-source community are warning potential NDA signers to be very careful before doing so as such a move could endanger current open-source projects, including Linux and BSD.
SCOs McBride said Friday that the company was still working on a possible resolution with IBM about its AIX Unix license. SCO has given IBM notice that it intends to revoke its AIX license on June 13 if the company does not comply with its licensing terms. “If the matter is not resolved by Monday, June 16, from that point onward we will be taking the appropriate steps to enforce the contract rights we have and the ability to revoke the AIX license,” he said.