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SCO targets Novell, steps into new legal trouble

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Updated Documents released by Novell show that The SCO Group is seeking to increase pressure on Novell, which recently acquired SuSE and Ximian, and whose 1995 contract with SCO goes to the heart of the current litigation. However, the path looks likely to give Novell enough cause to launch a suit for breach of contract, and a judgement could see SCO's claims collapse fairly rapidly.

Novell is seeking to certify that SCO "is in full compliance" with the contested "Asset Transfer Agreement" signed in August 1995. [and not the other way round, as an early version of this report stated]. Novell contests The SCO Group's rights to key UNIX™ code, specifically System V. SCO claims that code from IBM and SGI found its way into the Linux kernel, diluting the value of its UNIX™, UnixWare. SCO also claims the agreement gave it copyrights, which Novell contests. (Novell has quietly been registering copyrights). The ownership issue is key, because without it SCO has no grounds to demand that IBM stop selling AIX (claim made, but ignored) and SGI stop selling IRIX (claim abandoned, for now).

An amendment says the Buyer (SCO) "shall not have the authority to, amend, modify or waive any right under or assign any SVRX License without the prior written consent of Seller" (Novell), which looks cut and dried.

Novell gave SCO until yesterday to produce evidence of "full compliance". It's particularly peeved that Darl McBride picked up Novell's SUSE acquisition as ammunition, claiming it violates the 1995 agreement. Novell bites back: "These statements must be regarded as having been made in bad faith and for the sole purpose of disrupting Novell's planned acquisition and its prospective value to our company. Novell reserves all rights, including the right to hold you liable for any damages these statements may cause the company and for punitive damages based on your malicious and unfounded conduct."

Novell replied shortly before Christmas that the "unwarranted" demand was "designed less to protect intellectual property or contractual rights and more to harass customers". Novell has asked for but failed to receive documentation that SCO back certification trail and gave SCO until yesterday to respond.

(Novell has made 31 documents totaling 24MB available (either individually or as a single ZIP file), but this [PDF, 696 kb]is the one you want for a succinct summary of Novell's interpretation of the 1995 agreement).

SCO itself is set to make a revelation, as it finally complied with IBM's request to produce evidence of its claims. After a long phoney war, it looks as if SCO evidence to support its claims will finally be brought to light. ®

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Novell's SCO files

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