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To read comments to this article, go here
Novell Registers UNIX System V Copyrights - Dueling Copyrights
Monday, December 22 2003 @ 09:18 AM EST

UPDATE: 3:57 PM Dec. 22

Novell has confirmed our report of this morning, stating:

"PROVO, Utah Dec. 22, 2003 Novell believes it owns the copyrights in UNIX, and has applied for and received copyright registrations pertaining to UNIX consistent with that position. Novell detailed the basis for its ownership position in correspondence with SCO. Copies of our correspondence, and SCO's reply, are available here. Contrary to SCO's public statements, as demonstrated by this correspondence, SCO has been well aware that Novell continues to assert ownership of the UNIX copyrights."

And Linus enters the fray. It may be neither SCO nor Novell own these particular files. And an attorney confirms the significance of Novell's copyright on SCO's claims.

******************************************

ORIGINAL REPORT Dec. 22 9:18 AM:

Novell has registered for the copyrights on UNIX System V 2, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.2/386, 4.0, 4.1, 4.1ES, 4.1ES/386, 4.2, and 4.2MP with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Now both the SCO Group and Novell have registered for UNIX System V copyrights for the same code, although it appears that Novell has a few that SCO does not.

SCO registered on July 7 and 9, 2003 for 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2. On October 14, Novell registered copyrights on UNIX Sytem V 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2, 3.2/386, and 4.1ES. They registered for 4.2 on September 22, 2003. They registered on December 10 for 4.0 and 4.1. [1] The registrations appear to be identical except that SCO mostly lists AT&T as the author and Novell lists Unix System Laboratories, Inc.; SCO claims "New Matter: revisions" and Novell claims "New Matter: additions and revisions."

What does it mean? It indicates to me that Novell must believe that it is the rightful copyright owner of UNIX System V 2, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.2/386, 4.0, 4.1, 4.1ES, 4.1ES/386, 4.2, and 4.2MP and not SCO.

Just registering a copyright does not mean it is valid. At this point, we appear to have dueling copyright claims. When there is a dispute, it is decided in a courtroom.

Now, I am not a lawyer, as you know, and we don't yet know what code SCO is complaining about, but here is a question or two for you lawyers out there: can SCO sue for copyright infringement of System V code if their claim to ownership in the copyright to UNIX System V is in dispute? And is it in dispute, or could they both have valid claims? I know if I got one of SCO's threatening letters, if it was about UNIX System V code, those are the first questions I would ask my lawyer.

If you want to see the Novell registrations for yourself, go to the US Copyright Office web site, choose "Registrations and Copyrights", then choose "Books, Music, etc.", then choose "Title" and type in "UNIX System V" without quotation marks, and click on "Search". You will see a list with boxes. Choose only the boxes that are for UNIX System V and not the manuals, choosing "Brief Display". The first 6 are manuals and the 7th is Sun's copyright, TX-3-613-707: SPARCworks/ADA. CLNA: acSun Microsystems, Inc.

Numbers 8-14 are the ones you want to focus on:


ITEM 8. TX-5-750-269: UNIX system V : release 3.1. CLNA: the SCO Group, Inc.

ITEM 9. TX-5-750-270: UNIX system V : release 3.0. CLNA: the SCO Group, Inc.

ITEM 10. TX-5-750-271: UNIX system V : release 3.2. CLNA: the SCO Group, Inc.

ITEM 11. TX-5-803-363: UNIX System V : release 3.2. CLNA: Novell, Inc.

ITEM 12. TX-5-803-364: UNIX System V : release 3.0. CLNA: Novell, Inc.

ITEM 13. TX-5-803-365: UNIX System V : release 3.1. CLNA: Novell, Inc.

ITEM 14. TX-5-803-367: UNIX System V : release 3.2/386. CLNA: Novell, Inc.


If you run the same search asking for full information instead of the brief summary, you get this:


8. Registration Number: TX-5-750-269
Title: UNIX system V : release 3.1.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (source code) only deposited.
Claimant: the SCO Group, Inc.
Created: 1987
Published: 30Apr87
Registered: 7Jul03
Author on Application: computer program: AT&T (employer for hire)
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: revisions.
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C

9. Registration Number: TX-5-750-270
Title: UNIX system V : release 3.0.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (source code) only deposited.
Claimant: the SCO Group, Inc.
Created: 1986
Published: 23May86
Registered: 7Jul03
Author on Application: computer program: AT&T (employer for hire)
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: revisions.
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C

10. Registration Number: TX-5-750-271
Title: UNIX system V : release 3.2.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (source code) only deposited.
Claimant: the SCO Group, Inc.
Created: 1988
Published: 14Apr88
Registered: 7Jul03
Author on Application: computer program: AT&T (employer for hire)
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: revisions.
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C

11. Registration Number: TX-5-803-363
Title: UNIX System V : release 3.2.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (source code) only deposited.
Claimant: Novell, Inc.
Created: 1988
Published: 14Apr88
Registered: 14Oct03
Date in Notice: notice: 1984
Author on Application: program: UNIX System Laboratories, Inc., employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: additions & revisions.
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C

12. Registration Number: TX-5-803-364
Title: UNIX System V : release 3.0.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (source code) only deposited.
Claimant: Novell, Inc.
Created: 1986
Published: 23May86
Registered: 14Oct03
Date in Notice: notice: 1984
Author on Application: program: UNIX System Laboratories, Inc., employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: additions & revisions.
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C

13. Registration Number: TX-5-803-365
Title: UNIX System V : release 3.1.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (source code) only deposited.
Claimant: Novell, Inc.
Created: 1987
Published: 30Apr87
Registered: 14Oct03
Date in Notice: notice: 1984
Author on Application: program: UNIX System Laboratories, Inc., employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: additions & revisions.
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C

14. Registration Number: TX-5-803-367
Title: UNIX System V : release 3.2/386.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (source code) only deposited.
Claimant: Novell, Inc.
Created: 1988
Published: 18Jul88
Registered: 14Oct03
Author on Application: program: UNIX System Laboratories, Inc., employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: additions & revisions.
Special Codes: 1/C



Novell has also registered for UNIX System V 4.0 and 4.1, although the records are not in the electronic database yet, and for 4.2, which is:

Registration Number: TX-5-789-381
Title: UNIX System V/386 release 4.2.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (71 p.) only deposited.
Claimant: Novell, Inc.
Created: 1992
Published: 25Jun92
Registered: 22Sep03
Author on Application: UNIX System Laboratories, Inc., employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: additional, new & rev. progamming text.
Special Codes: 1/C

All refer to TXu-510-028:

Title: UNIX.
Edition: 5th ed.
Note: Computer program; with programmer's manual by K. Thompson, D. M. Ritchie.
Claimant: Unix System Laboratories, Inc.
Created: 1973
Registered: 25Mar92
Title on Application: UNIX operating system.
Author on Application: American Telephone & Telegraph Company (employer for hire)
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C

If you next run a search for SCO Group, as Claimant, you find that they also registered for UNIX System V 4.0, 4.1, and 4.1ES, which Novell has not, at least not that I could find yet, and they registered for 3.2/386:

Registration Number: TX-5-750-268
Title: UNIX system V release 3.2/386.
Description: Computer program.
Note: Printout (20 p.) only deposited.
Claimant: the SCO Group, Inc.
Created: 1988
Published: 18Jul88
Registered: 9Jul03
Author on Application: AT&T, employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Prev. reg. 1992, TXu 510-028.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: revisions.
Miscellaneous: C.O. corres.
Special Codes: 1/C


Credit goes to Rand McNatt for finding the initial registrations and to Harlan Wilkerson for obtaining the Novell-SCO agreements that caused Rand to run the search, and to Vince Negri for helping me to expand the research.

[1] You won't find this information about 4.0 and 4.1 in the electronic database yet. A very pleasant specialist in the Copyright Office named Denise helped me to find it. Thank you, Denise. In about a month, it will be there.


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