The SCO zombie wins one

Oh, the irony. Today, August 24th, a Federal Appeals Court ruled that while the walking dead SCO still owes Novell big bucks for selling Unix to Sun and Microsoft, the District Court overstepped its grounds in ruling that SCO had never bought Unix's IP (intellectual property) rights in the first place. What's funny about this is that it's only after SCO is dead, for all practical purposes, that it finally manages to win one.

This does not mean, as the few brain-dead SCO supporters would have it, that SCO owns Unix's IP. It means that SCO might own them, and they can take the matter to a jury trial. As the ruling itself states: "We recognize that Novell has powerful arguments to support its version of the transaction, and that, as the district court suggested, there may be reasons to discount the credibility, relevance, or persuasiveness of the extrinsic evidence that SCO presents." But, since "the evidence presented on a dispositive issue is subject to conflicting, reasonable interpretations, summary judgment is improper. So, "We think SCO has presented sufficient evidence to create a triable fact as to whether at least some UNIX copyrights were required for it to exercise its rights under the agreement."

Does this mean that, as CEO Darl McBride said in The Salt Lake Tribune, this is a "'huge validation for SCO' that will enable it to continue its lawsuit against IBM and a related suit against Novell."?

Uh. No, not really.

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McBride still has the CEO title, but he doesn't have any power. SCO's leadership, which has been in bankruptcy for years and has failed to find any buyers, no longer controls the company. According to SCO's August 3rd SEC 8-K filing, the Bankruptcy Court has had enough of SCO's executives and is putting a yet-to-be-appointed Chapter 11 Trustee "authority over the Debtors' assets and affairs and the future course of the Debtors' litigation against Novell, IBM, et al."

Pamela Jones, editor of Groklaw, thinks that this means SCO is destined for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, "because SCO was counting on the appeal to overturn on the issue of the money that the Utah decision gave Novell from the Sun license deal, and that didn't happen. Of course, there could be new investors." In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a company simply ceases to exist with the bits and pieces sold off to pay creditors.

There's a fool born every minute — but a fool who wants to invest still more money in legal fees in this money pit? I doubt it. I doubt even Microsoft, which has bankrolled SCO's anti-Linux lawsuits, has the stomach for it.

The SCO zombie's victory is meaningless legal trivia. The company and its anti-Linux claims are still dead. The now brainless corpse is just still twitching a little.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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