The Word is Out: SCO Got the Smackdown

The epic battle between the Open Source world — represented by Novell — and evil proprietary patent trolls — played by SCO — has finally played out, at least partly, as Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah has released his decision in SCO v. Novell — and it's not a happy message for our beloved friends at SCO.

The ruling, which comes nearly three months after the four-day bench trial concluded, was a mix of victories and defeats for each party, though Novell clearly came out ahead. The big victory was the court's determination that SCO lacked authority to enter into its agreement with Sun Microsystems, and as a result, owes Novell just over $2.5 million (plus interest). SCO won a relatively significant point on the burden of proof over its SCOsource licenses: Novell based its arguments at trial around the assumption that SCO would bear the burden of proving the SCOsource licenses weren't SVRX licenses, but the court ruled the opposite, that it was Novell that had to prove they were SVRX licenses. Since Novell hadn't anticipated that, SCO automatically won on that point.

There's quite a bit that could be appealed — by either side — in this one, though it's certainly slanted towards Novell. As it stands, Novell may or may not bother to appeal the issues open to review, however, if SCO decides to appeal in an attempt to get another shot at the jackpot, Novell would almost inevitably retaliate by appealing all the various bits and bobs that could multiply that $2.5 million into $20 million. Our good friends over at Groklaw have a detailed breakdown of it all — and no doubt will have even more in the days to come.

Now, barring any appeals, the whole matter rests with the Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, which so far seems oblivious to SCO's modus operandi. Hopefully, once they see the ruing from Judge Kimball — who knows SCO in and out by this point — they'll wake up and take a closer look at all the money they've let SCO throw out the window.

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

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