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SCO: Unix is Ours

Jun 06, 2003, 21:30 (46 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols)

SCO announced this morning that a paralegal had uncovered a document, Amendment No. 2 to the Asset Purchase Agreement dated October 16, 1996 that SCO claims clarifies that the Asset Purchase Agreement between Novell and SCO dated September 19, 1995 did indeed give them "all rights to the UNIX and UnixWare technology, including the copyrights, were transferred to SCO."

Darl McBride, SCO CEO, summed it up as, "SCO is the only rightful owner of System V and all copyrights."

Novell agrees that, while unable to find a copy of the document themselves, the amendment looks legitimate and "appears to support SCO's claim that ownership of certain copyrights for UNIX did transfer to SCO in 1996." Novell continues on though that, "the amendment does not address ownership of patents, however, which clearly remain with Novell."

On the other hand, McBride during the June 6th teleconference implied that he doesn't know if the copyrights were ever registered with the Copyright Office. Chris Sontag, senior VP of SCOsource said that that didn't matter and that the copyrights would be registered if necessary in the future.

As for Novell, far from beating retreat, "Novell reiterates its request to SCO to address the fundamental issue Novell raised in its May 28 letter: SCO's still unsubstantiated claims against the Linux community.

One non-technical analyst, Laura Dido of the Yankee Group, who has signed SCO's non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to see the source code has said that the Unix and Linux source code samples selected and supplied by SCO do look identical. She recommends that companies with IBM AIX contracts talk with IBM about what they should do next. Many analysts and technology journalists have refused to sign the NDA since it would impede them in reporting on SCO's claims.

One important question, which source code alone can't answer, remains unanswered, though. Even if Unix code was illegally placed in Linux, who put it there?

Looking ahead, McBride said that if IBM does not settle with SCO by June 13 over its claims that Unix code was improperly introduced into AIX and Linux, SCO will revoke IBM's AIX license on the 16th. He did not say what, if any, action SCO would take against companies continuing to use AIX.

At the same time, McBride hinted broadly that SCO would welcome an out of court settlement or a buy out saying, "We're having discussions with large players and we'd welcome any proposal to resolve the issue."

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