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SCO's Second Amendment rebuffs Novell Unix claim

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The army of paper shufflers beavering away at the SCO Group has managed to unearth a 1996 amendment powerful enough to block some of Novell's Unix claims.

Amendment No. 2 found in a SCO file-cabinet last week appears to have to set us back where we started in the Unix/Linux ownership saga. The document alters a provision in the 1995 Asset Purchases Agreement between Novell and SCO that nixed Unix copyrights from changing hands. SCO is now saying the amendment confirms that Unix copyrights have been safely secured.

"There's nothing really new today," said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata . "Though it does look like we're back to where we were a week or so ago and that SCO really does own the right to AT&T Unix."

Novell has been trying to spoil SCO's billion dollar attack on IBM. Last month, Novell argued that it did not agree to transfer copyrights and patents for Unix System V to SCO.

Now, however, the company has been forced to back off a tad.

"The amendment appears to support SCO's claim that ownership of certain copyrights for Unix did transfer to SCO in 1996," Novell said in a statement.

Even with the setback, Novell is still slinging challenges at SCO and its IP crusade.

"The amendment does not address ownership of patents, however, which clearly remain with Novell. 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."

It's an amazing coincidence that a SCO paralegal could find such a helpful document so quickly after Novell voiced its complaints. SCO's paperwork precision is clearly getting to the Linux zealots, as one jumped on a SCO conference call, pretending to be an analyst.

The faux "George Weiss" from Gartner demanded that SCO explain what it is trying to accomplish as an IP shop. Some real analysts on the call appreciated the imposter's direct line of questioning.

"There is the very real question that SCO has never answered which is 'what do they want out of this?'" said Illuminata's Haff. "Protecting your IP is fine, but what do you want?" ®

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