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Novell won't pull a SCO

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Yes, a judge has confirmed that Novell owns the copyrights to the Unix operating system, but that doesn't mean the company plans to start suing people for using Linux. It will leave such behavior to companies that don't own the copyrights. Like SCO.

"We have absolutely no intention of using our Unix copyright ownership to attack Linux," Novell spokesperson Bruce Lowry told The Reg. "We've had those copyrights for the past 14 or 15 years. The fact that the court has reaffirmed them doesn't mean we're now going to change the way we operate. We've never indicated we would use those copyrights against Linux - and we wouldn't. In fact, we want to defend Linux."

In 1995, Novell sold its Unix trademarks and other assets to SCO, and SCO was quite sure that the deal included the Unix copyrights as well - so sure that it started waving them angrily at the Linux industry.

Nearly ten years after its deal with Novell, the shell-of-a-software-company sued several Linux-happy businesses, including IBM and DaimlerChrysler, claiming copyright infringement.

Then, on Friday, after Novell filed a suit of its own against SCO, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that the copyrights were in fact Novell's. Some pundits have asked whether Novell will now start filing Linux suits of its own, but Lowry says the notion is ridiculous.

"People have been saying, 'Well, now that you own the copyrights, you can do what SCO did,'" Lowry told us. "But no. We're not going to do that."

As far as Novell's concerned, nothing has changed. They've owned the Unix copyrights for years - and they still own them. That doesn't mean it's planning a Linux attack of its own. "The whole reason we filed that suit against SCO was to stop them from attacking Linux - and to defend Linux," he said. "We're not going to do a SCO. Period. It makes no sense."

Of course, the Novell-SCO case is still ongoing, and Novell will certainly use its copyrights to collect damages from SCO, which also leveraged the copyrights in Unix-related deals with Sun and Microsoft. "Yes, we need to figure how much of that Sun and Microsoft money actually belongs to us," Lowry said. "But we're not going to sue the Linux community."

Got it? Novell is not SCO. ®

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