Novell disputes SCO’s Linux moves

Earlier this week, Novell Corp. challenged The SCO Group over that company's recent assertions that the Linux open-source software movement in general -- and IBM in particular -- has misappropriated some of its intellectual property. SCO's claims to copyrights and patents to Unix System V are now under question as a result of Novell's move.

In a letter to his counterpart at SCO, Novell Chairman and CEO Jack Messman said that the 1995 agreement the company struck with SCO to sell Unix assets did not include transfer of copyrights and patent rights.

"To Novell's knowledge, the 1995 agreement governing SCO's purchase of Unix from Novell does not convey to SCO the associated copyrights," Messman said in the letter. He also indicated that in recent months SCO has vigorously sought to gain these rights from Novell.

"We believe it unlikely that SCO can demonstrate that it has any ownership interest whatsoever in those copyrights," Messman wrote SCO President and CEO Darl McBride. "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."

The Unix operating system was originally developed in 1969 by Bell Laboratories, then owned by AT&T, which later sold it to Novell. As part of a regrouping in 1995, Novell sold its Unix operations to SCO. That left SCO claiming that it had purchased both the rights and the ownership of Unix.

Earlier this month, SCO warned about 1,500 corporate users of Linux software that "unauthorized use" of its Unix source code could make them liable for violating intellectual property rights.

If SCO claims it has specific evidence supporting its allegations against the Linux community, Novell's Messman wrote, "it is time to substantiate that claim."

In response to Messman’s broadside, SCO repeated its claim that it “owns the contract rights to the UNIX operating system.”

The company further asserted that it “has the contractual right to prevent improper donations of UNIX code, methods or concepts into Linux by any UNIX vendor.”

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.


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