Appeals Court Upholds Novell Copyright on Early Unix System

Novell Inc. (NOVL) owns the copyrights of early versions of the Unix computer operating system, not SCO Group Inc., a federal appeals court ruled, upholding a jury verdict.

The Denver-based court today also affirmed a lower-court ruling that Novell had the right to prevent SCO from terminating a Unix license issued before Novell sold part of its Unix business to SCO in 1995.

“Novell’s board of directors adopted a resolution approving the sale, which specifically mentioned the copyrights were to be retained by Novell,” the judges said in the opinion.

This was the second time the appeals court ruled on this case. In the first appeal it reversed a lower-court ruling in Novell’s favor and sent the case back. After a two-week trial, the jury ruled Novell owned the copyrights. SCO appealed.

A spokeswoman for Linden, Utah-based SCO, Chantell Ferrin, didn’t immediately reply to messages seeking comment.

The case is SCO Group v. Novell, 10-4122. U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (Denver).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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