In what we sincerely hope will be the last chapter in SCO‘s long-running infringement case over Unis, U.S. Federal District Judge Dale Kimball has issued his final ruling (PDF): SCO must pay Novell over $2.54 million for unjust enrichment…plus more than $900,000 in interest and $489 for every day from August 29 until November 20, 2008. Although SCO could technically appeal the ruling to a higher court, the company is struggling to reorganize under bankruptcy protection and would not seem to have the assets to continue a court fight. SCO does not have the assets to pay the judgement outright; a trust has been established to begin payment, using some $625,000 in SCO resources.
SCO’s famous case against Novell got underway more than five years ago, when the company claimed it had ownership of the Unix SVRX copyrights and, furthermore, that the open source Linux kernel had been written using source code from SVRX Unix. Through a protracted legal battle, SCO’s claims were eventually torn completely apart: no evidence of copyright infringement was uncovered in Linux source code (even by SCO’s own audit), and Novell was ruled the rightful owner of Unix SVRX copyrights.
As tawdry has the SCO litigation has been, the company’s antics may have had one positive outcome: Linux’s open source heritage has successfully withstood a significant court challenge. Although Microsoft counts Novell as a licensing partner today and seems more concerned with interoperability than threatening to bomb Linux back to the Stone Age with patent infringement lawsuits, the legal victory means Linux is very unlikely to be undone with a swift stroke of a judge’s pen.