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Contract illuminates Novell, SCO spat

By Stephen Shankland
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
June 4, 2003, 3:01 PM PT

A 1995 contract sheds light on the conflicting Unix ownership claims by Novell and SCO Group, with SCO receiving broad rights to the operating system but Novell retaining copyrights and patents.
According to a copy of the contract obtained by CNET News.com, Novell sold "all rights and ownership of Unix and UnixWare" to the SCO Group's predecessor, the Santa Cruz Operation. However, the asset purchase agreement, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, specifically excludes "all copyrights" and "all patents" from the purchase.

"This agreement is kind of murky...You end up with a lot of questions, to put it mildly," said Mark Radcliffe, an intellectual property attorney with law firm Gray Cary.

While the contract squarely leaves the copyright with Novell, a section that gives to SCO "all claims...against any parties relating to any right, property or asset included in the (Unix) business" could be interpreted to give SCO the right to enforce the copyright, Radcliffe said. "The question is, even though (Novell) didn't assign the intellectual property (to SCO), did (Novell) assign the rights to enforce the patents and copyrights?"

6/4/2003 4:24:04 PM

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