Copyright Laws Side With Novell
On Janurary 20, 2004 the lawsuit between Novell and SCO began. In reality the battle started much before that. The confrontation actually started when SCO filed suit against IBM, claiming that they owned Unix. If SCO had known that Novell would contest this claim, effectively coming to the aid of IBM, they probably wouldn't have started in the first place. Or they might have, who knows the minds of SCO?
SCO continued with the struggle, however, and pushed it's claim for the Unix copyright despite Novell's emergence onto the scene, and subsequently Novell's counter claim for those same copyrights. The court battle has been fierce on both sides, but recently SCO has run into a snag.
On August 10, 2007, Judge Dale Kimball ruled that “...the court concludes that Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights.” Novell was awarded a summary judgment on a number of claims while many of SCO's claims were denied. In addition to the verdict, SCO was ordered to hand over licenses fee's to Novell!
Novell's statement on the ruling: “The courts ruling has cut out the core of SCO's case and as a result, eliminates SCO's threat to the Linux community based upon allegations of copyright infringements of UNIX. We are extremely pleased with the outcome.”
Novell may be happy with the outcome, but SCO is definitely not! On Friday, August 10th SCO's stock was worth about $1.70/share (trade symbol SCOX). The trading day ended before the verdict was handed down. On the following Monday, SCO's stock price was hovering around $0.40.
Not being a stockbroker or an analyst I can't tell you why their stock price dropped so dramatically, but it is suspect that the drop in stock price followed so closely on the heels of the courts decision.
So what does this mean to the average consumer? Should we even care about this other than an interesting side note for the history of Linux?
Actually, the ramifications for this decision are fairly substantial. While SCO was fighting their legal battles, they sent out notices to companies threatening legal actions if they did not cease and desist with their use of Linux. If a company wanted to use Linux, they had to weight the benefits of better platform against the cost of a lawsuit. This threat kept many people from adopting Linux, effectively stunting the growth and adoption rate of Linux.
Now that the threat of a lawsuit is gone, combined with the recent partnership between Novell and Microsoft, companies don't need to have these other concerns when trying to decide what to use in their network. I predict more companies will step away from the platforms they have been pigeonholed in and start adopting more open source solutions.
*Image provided by http://money.excite.com