A federal judge issues a ruling that seems to shut down a software company's multibillion-dollar claim to own the open-source operating system.
Late on Friday afternoon Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court in Utah issued what looks to be a book-closing ruling in the long effort of one company, the SCO Group, to take over the open-source operating system Linux. In 2003, SCO sued IBM for a billion dollars (later raised to $5 billion), claiming that IBM had contributed code from the proprietary Unix operating system to Linux — which violated SCO’s copyrights, SCO said, because in 1995, it had purchased the rights to the Unix code from the software company Novell.
Got that? Doesn’t matter either way, because Friday’s ruling shuts it down. In SCO v. Novell, a case running alongside SCO’s claim against IBM, the judge said that Novell never transferred Unix ownership over to SCO: “Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights,” the ruling states.
What does this mean for SCO’s claim to own Linux? The judge called a hearing for Aug. 31 to sort out what might happen to the IBM suit, but observers see the writing on the wall.
Since SCO’s claims to Linux rest on its claim to own Unix, a ruling that Novell — and not SCO — actually owns Unix is like a drive crash on SCO’s legal aims: Perhaps the company can try to restart the effort, but it would take a miracle to actually prevail.
SCO, though, has little other choice than to keep going; the company, now, is basically an intellectual-property hoarding firm, a company that exists solely to extract from others a legal bounty on allegations of copyright violation.
This is its business, and naturally, the company says it will continue: “Although the district judge ruled in Novell’s favor on important issues, the case has not yet been fully vetted by the legal system and we will continue to explore our options with respect to how we move forward from here.”
Good luck with that, SCO.
– Farhad Manjoo
Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. More Farhad Manjoo.
More Related Stories
- Twitter torches Dan Brown's "Inferno"
- Brad Pitt keeps breaking his silence on how boring marriage to Jennifer Aniston was
- Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" to use porn star body doubles
- New Beyoncé single leaked
- The sweet, sure to be short-lived "The Goodwin Games"
- Damon Lindelof admits barely-clothed scene in "Star Trek" was "gratuitous"
- Justin Timberlake: I'm a mediocre folk singer!
- Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
- Beware of book blurbs
- Did a Salon excerpt ruin Penn Jillette's chance to win "Celebrity Apprentice"?
- Zach Galifianakis to take formerly homeless woman to "Hangover 3" premiere
- Seth MacFarlane will not host Oscars again
- "SNL's" uncomfortable Garner/Affleck moment
- "Celebrity Apprentice" finale ratings hit a new low
- Worst National Anthem fails
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- "Game of Thrones," season 3, episode 8: A salon
- Bieber booed, Miguel falls on fan at Billboard Awards
- "Mad Men" recap: Love, acid and whores. Lots of whores
- Taylor Swift leads Billboard winners
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11