Ruling Reverberates Through Open-Source Community

Novell wins in court, but SCO ready for next fight.

A Salt Lake City jury sided with Novell in its long-running legal dispute against SCO Groups claim it owned the copyright to the Unix operating system, a cousin to the popular open-source OS Linux.

The decision provides answers to some key arguments within the open source community. Throughout the lengthy trials and litigation, SCO Group demanded licensing fees from nearly 1,500 corporate Linux users on grounds that elements of Linux are based off Unix and violated SCO Groups copyrights.

Novell did not make a similar claim and has repeatedly said it had no intention of suing anybody for copyright infringement.

This decision is good news for Novell, for Linux, and for the open source community, Novell wrote on its Web site.

Though some within the open source community initially said the trial is over, the issue of copyright infringement might drag on. SCO is reportedly weighing an appeal and is likely to continue its related lawsuit against IBM. SCO may drop the copyright infringement charges regarding Unix in the IBM case, but SCO has other claims related to contracts that it can assert against IBM.

Though SCO has not proven successful in many of its cases in recent years, many Linux users are still fearful that should SCO prevail, they would face costly legal action.

The battle dates back seven years ago when IBM was sued by SCO, which claimed it had violated SCOs rights by contributing Unix code to Linux. A year later a similar charge was thrown at Novell, saying that it falsely claimed rights to Unix.

Obviously, were disappointed in the jurys decision, said Stuart Singer, SCOs lawyer. We were confident in the case, but theres some important claims remaining to be decided by a judge.

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