Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SCO vs Novell

Well, it is almost over. Almost a decade watching SCO fight the world + dog about Linux having the right to exist unencumbered by license fees.

AT&T originally wrote Unix and owned the majority of the intellectual property pertaining to the Operating System. AT&T licensed Unix to many people, some for money, others (universities) for educational purposes.

When BSD came along with a version of Unix, AT&T got upset and petitioned the courts to stop them. The courts said it was too late, the source code for Unix had been seen by so many people that AT&T could no longer say that they had adequately defended their property. Unix became, for most intents and purposes, free.

Novell later bought the rights to Unix. The trademark was given to the Open Group, with Novell keeping the copyrights (and/or patents) pertaining to Unix.

SCO, a Unix licensee (dating back to AT&T), was interested in purchasing the source code and certain rights to Unix/Unixware from Novell. Novell basically agreed to "give SCO the Unix business", and in turn, SCO was also allowed to sell licenses for the Unix product to others. SCO retained 5% of the license fees, with 95% going back to Novell.

When the Linux was introduced, for free, the Unix licensees took notice. A Unix like product for nothing? Every Unix vendor, including SCO, began to see their sales dropping off.

SCO had several products, SCO Unixware (previously Novell Unixware), SCO Unix, and a recently aquired Caldera Linux. SCO actively developed code on all their products.

SCO fell on very hard times. In an attempt to regain the license fee's they were not collecting, they claimed the rights to the Unix intellectual property and began to sue anybody that was considering Linux as a replacement for a SCO product.

The legal battles have dragged on. IBM, RedHat, Chrysler, AutoZone and more were attacked. The attacks depended on SCO having the right to sue.

Yesterday a jury upheld Novell's ownership of the Unix intellectual property, essentially destroying any hope SCO had for getting license fees for Linux use.

Let freedom ring.