Friday, August 10, 2007

The Fat Lady's Singing... SCO Loses Everything

As PJ is reporting on Groklaw, SCO has lost... well, practically everything.

Judge Dale Kimball has ruled on the summary judgment motions in the Novell vs. SCO case. Unsurprisingly, he's ruled that Novell owns the copyrights to Unix and UnixWare. Novell has the right to waive the lawsuits against IBM and Sequent (as it has already done). And SCO owes Novell a truckload of money. Judging by the last SEC filings, it looks to me as though the amount owed exceeds SCO's assets.

IOW, it appears that Darl McBride has successfully ruined his company: he's gone from royal pain-in-the-ass to complete and total failure. Way to go, Darl... Mom would be proud.

There are a couple of areas where SCO can attempt to spin this as a positive thing. Judge Kimball says that SCO can pursue their counter-claim against Novell for whatever bits of post-1996 Unix code that SCO may have added to UnixWare which may have found its way into Suse Linux. This is because the sale of the Unix business to SCO included a clause saying that Novell wouldn't sell a product which is based on the Unix code that directly competes with SCO's offerings, and Linux certainly is a direct competitor. We already know how successful that would be, since SCO has proven their pitiful ineptitude at finding any Unix code at all in Linux in the IBM case. Any attempt at pushing this feeble argument would amount to a puppet show, and SCO doesn't have the money to pursue it.

Oh, and the judge didn't issue an injunction regarding the money owed to Novell, because there's a question of fact regarding exactly how much money that is. Other than a lot. A WHOLE lot.

Will SCO appeal? Of course. They have a snowball's chance in Hell of winning it, though. And it would be difficult to do without any money. SCO's stock (SCOX) has been bouncing between pitiful and pathetic for the last six months and they've narrowly avoided de-listing twice. It spent most of the time between March and May below a dollar. What happens when the few remaining stockholders wake up to the news Monday morning? If you're holding SCO stock now you should be wishing that you'd picked an investment with more staying power... like soap bubbles or mayflies.

What other fallout can we expect? Well, I've personally seen companies yank Linux out of their datacenters in the name of "risk mitigation" with regard to Linux "intellectual property" infringement. As it turns out, these companies have spent the last four years overpaying for IT. They don't have to do that anymore (or they might, just because they've now locked themselves into proprietary crap they never needed). Is it possible that some of these folks will get together and file a class-action suit against SCO for the wasted capital, arguing that SCO knew their IP assertions were bald-faced lies? Could be... it's uncertain whether such a suit would prevail, but wherever there is death you'll find vultures circling. And simply defending against the threat would further drain SCO's depleted coffers.

The judge has asked for the parties' opinions on how the Novell rulings affect the pending motions in the SCO vs. IBM case. As I mentioned above, Novell has the right to waive the lawsuits against IBM and Sequent, and it has done so. Judge Kimball's ruled that they do indeed have that right, so it looks as though the entire SCO vs. IBM lawsuit is moot. Certainly that will be IBM's opinion. Nevertheless, SCO has until 5pm on Aug 31st to find some clever way of arguing that up is down, black is white, and that they should be allowed to continue to attack an impregnable fortress with spitballs. SCO will surely argue that the copyrights don't matter because the case against IBM isn't based on copyrights, but the fact that Novell can unilaterally wave the whole thing away pretty much sticks a fork in it.

So now we get to watch SCO bleed to death. Goodbye Darl. You suck.

OH, and the GREAT news is that the "IP risks" associated with Linux pretty much just evaporated. So, promote Linux, use Linux. Geh in Gesundheit.


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