SCO ordered to pay Novell $2.5m in Unix royalties (again)

Is the final judgment the final judgment?

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Once again, a federal judge has ruled that SCO owes Novell over $2.5m, insisting that the Utah shell-of-a-software-company was unjustly enriched by a 2003 licensing agreement with Sun Microsystems.

On Thursday, as reported by Groklaw, judge Dale Kimball issued his final judgment (PDF warning) in the seemingly-endless legal face-off between SCO and Novell. The judgment kills SCO's attempt to waive certain claims and then resurrect them on appeal, and it reiterates a July ruling that SCO must pay Novell $2,547,817 (plus interest) for unilaterally agreeing to amend Sun's license for the Unix SVRX copyrights. Interest exceeds $900,000.

SCO could appeal, but you have wonder how long it can keep this up. The company no longer sells anything of note, and in September 2007, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This past February, a private equity firm agreed to resuscitate the outfit with a $100m cash infusion, but the firm has since abandoned the deal, and SCO no longer has the dough needed to pay Novell.

This particular legal spat began with SCO suing Novell - not the other way around. In January 2004, SCO filed a slander of title action suit accusing Novell of improperly laying claim to the Unix SVRX copyrights.

Nearly a decade earlier, 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 at the Linux industry, entering licensing agreements with the likes of Sun and suing everyone from IBM to DaimlerChrysler.

But in August of last year, Judge Kimball ruled that the copyrights were in fact Novell's. With last week's ruling, it would appear he has finally shoved SCO into the grave. But the company has knack for reanimation. ®

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