SCO May Not Own UNIX but May Sue Torvalds

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 8:47 PM

In a number of stories that broke today, the SCO-IBM conflict continued to grow to include Novell Corp., the company that SCO's (formerly Caldera) founders came from, and perhaps even Linux creator Linus Torvalds himself. Links and further information within.

The first story came out before SCO's financial results teleconference this morning when Novell's CEO, Jack Messman, challenged SCO's claims against the Linux kernel. That took an unexpected twist, however, when Novell did so partly on the basis of challenging SCO's claim to ownership of UNIX System V source code. According to Novell's press release, “Novell challenged SCO's assertion that it owns the copyrights and patents to UNIX System V, pointing out that the asset purchase agreement entered into between Novell and SCO in 1995 did not transfer these rights to SCO.

The second striking piece of news arrived during an CBS MarketWatch interview with McBride concerning the first piece of news. As expected, McBride denied Novell's ownership claim to UNIX System V, but he also suggested something quite telling about SCO's goals with its litigation. According to the article, “unless more companies start licensing SCO's property, he may also sue Linus Torvalds, who is credited with inventing the Linux operating system, for patent infringement.”

What this means is hard to say at this stage, but Novell offers one possible interpretation within its release: “Absent … action [showing violations of SCO's IP in the Linux kernel], it will be apparent to all that SCO's true intent is to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about Linux in order to extort payments from Linux distributors and users.”