SCO: ‘Linux is a knock-off of our Unix’

Denver (CO) –  A federal appeals court has reversed the 2007 decision that granted the copyright of the Unix operating system to Novell.

Three judges at the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a judge was mistaken almost exactly two years ago by granting the copyright to Novell and ordered a new trial to decide on ownership.

Novell and SCO have been glaring at each other across courtrooms for decades in a bid to gain ownership of the venerable OS, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year. SCO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2007, after spending all its cash on unsuccessful lawsuits claiming that its code was stolen by developers for use as the basis of Linux.

“For us it’s a case of survival, of protecting what we own.” SCO chief executive Darl McBride told AP.

In 1995, SCO bought the Unix operating system from Novell for $149 million, but who actually owned the copyright was never entirely clear. McBride said the development and distribution of Linux has caused SCO’s revenues to drop from $250 million a year to $15 million, forcing the company to file for bankruptcy.

“There are 20 million versions of Linux running around the world,” McBride added. “Linux at the end of the day is a knock off of our Unix.”

SCO is also after a pound of flesh from IBM, claiming that its license for using Unix code in its AIX operating system used on the RS/6000 range expired in 2003 and that Big Blue illegally gave away the source code for reuse in Linux.

Although the 2007 ruling that Novell owned the copyright put SCO’s claim against IBM on the back burner, this week’s court ruling means that can of worms has been opened up again as well.

Trial dates for SCO’s new lawsuits against Novell and IBM have not been set, but will take place in the US District Court in Salt Lake City.

Is it just me, or does it sometimes seem that the principal role of the IT industry is to act as a job creation scheme for lawyers?