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SCO ordered to pay Novell $2.5m Unix royalties

Cheque, mate

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A US district court judge yesterday ordered SCO to pay Novell $2.5m for unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty and conversion.

Judge Dale A Kimball’s ruling in the SCO vs Novell lawsuit came 10 weeks after a four-day trial to decide how much money SCO should cough up to Novell.

Groklaw, which has a copy of the ruling here (pdf), said: “So, SCO breached its fiduciary duty to Novell, converted funds, and so it has to pay. That is ironic, in that this case started with SCO accusing Novell of slander of title, and asking for millions in damages. Instead it has to *pay* Novell millions.”

SCO kicked off the legal spat in January 2004 by slapping a slander of title action lawsuit on Novell in which it alleged that the software company improperly claimed to own UNIX SVRX copyrights that rightfully belonged to SCO.

Kimball issued a decision on 10 August 2007 that spent 100 pages working its way through the various claims and counterclaims presented by SCO and Novell over the years, concerning Unix ownership rights.

Much of the controversy covered by Kimball stemmed from the vague language of a 1995 Asset Purchase Agreement between Novell and SCO. Subsequent discussions held between the two companies did little to clear up the confusion as to whether or not Novell shifted Unix copyrights to SCO during the technology swap.

Kimball effectively turned the lawsuit inside out by ruling that Novell still owned the Unix operating system copyrights.

Yesterday the judge ordered SCO to pay Novell $2,547,817 for agreeing to unilaterally amend Sun's SVRX licence. Novell had sought $20m at trial.

"The court concludes that SCO was entitled to enter into the 2003 Microsoft Agreement and the other SCO source Licenses, but was not authorized to enter into the 2003 Sun Agreement based on its amendment of the provisions concerning Sun’s SVRX confidentiality requirements under the 1994 Agreement," said Kimball. ®

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