SCO sues Novell for slander of title over Unix

The SCO Group Inc. has filed a slander lawsuit against Novell Inc., saying the company has engaged in bad faith efforts to deny SCO’s rights to Unix and UnixWare.

The SCO lawsuit, filed in a Utah state court Tuesday, alleges that Novell has made false claims that it owns the Unix and UnixWare copyrights, according to a SCO press release. Since mid-2003, two companies have been locked in a legal dispute over which of the two companies own the source code for Unix System V. SCO’s claim on that source code is the foundation of its allegations that the Linux operating system contains SCO intellectual property. In December, Novell confirmed that it had been filing copyrights on parts of the Unix System V code.

The new SCO lawsuit, which claims Novell has slandered SCO’s title to Unix, also alleges that:

— Novell has improperly filed copyright registrations for Unix technology covered by SCO’s copyrights.

— Novell has made false statements with the intent to cause customers and potential customers to avoid doing business with SCO.

— Novell has attempted, in bad faith, to block SCO’s ability to enforce its copyrights.

— Novell’s false and misleading representations that it owns the Unix and UnixWare copyrights has caused SCO irreparable harm to its copyrights, its business, and its reputation.

Novell representatives haven’t seen a copy of the lawsuit yet and can’t comment directly on it, said Bruce Lowry, a Novell spokesman. “We’ll certainly be defending our interests,” he said.

The lawsuit, filed in Salt Lake City, requests preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring Novell to assign to SCO all copyrights that Novell has registered and preventing Novell from representing any ownership interest in those copyrights.

The SCO lawsuit comes after “repeated announcements regarding their claimed ownership” of Unix and UnixWare copyrights, said SCO lawyer Mark Heise of the Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP law firm in a statement. “Although SCO owns the Unix and UnixWare copyrights, Novell’s efforts to claim ownership of these copyrights has forced this action.”

Heise pointed to an Asset Purchase Agreement from 1995 — including Attachment E found at — as evidence that SCO owns the copyrights.

The lawsuit seeks damages in an amount to be proven at trial for Novell’s alleged slander of SCO’s title to the Unix and UnixWare copyrights. In addition, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages for what the press release called Novell’s malicious and willful conduct.

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