Fear Novell. Or buy Novell.

Remember SCO?  The world’s saddest, most ludicrous software company?  Well, if not, Groklaw has a rich and colourful (not to mention opinionated) archive on the subject.

The ghost of SCO has long since joined that of Jarndyce & Jarndyce, the perpetual litigants.  But this week, an actual decision by a Utah jury: Novell owns the Unix copyrights.

Some believe SCO’s litigation was inherently doomed: there’s nothing to be had from Unix IP.  Yes, there’s value, but that’s long-since been opened to the world, and of course independently re-engineered elsewhere, most importantly in GNU/Linux.

Others take a different view: there’s gold beyond the dreams of avarice in that Unix IP.  SCO had a great idea; they just made a hash of executing it.  After all, in the real world, pirates have taken such major companies as Blackberry-maker RIM and even Microsoft to the cleaners over IP that is, by any standards, a drop in the ocean set against UNIX.

So when a hedge fund bids for Novell, I expect they’re in the latter camp.  They’re not an Oracle, a huge and powerful software company getting Sun, a crown-jewel complementary company on the cheap.  They’re a pure money-machine.  They have no business to fit Novell’s.  So it seems likely they want the crown jewels of Novell’s IP.

That was before the jury declared Novell owner of such an important part of the IP!  It must be worth more now, to a cash-rich wannabe-pirate.

Novell under current management has shown itself benign, and hero of the SCO story.  Under other management, all bets would be off.  The fact that they rejected one bid (or did they?) doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll always be able to do so – that’s up to the shareholders.

How much is it worth to lay that spectre to rest?  Are you a shareholder, and if not, why not?

Posted on April 1, 2010, in free software, intellectual property, linux, open source, UNIX. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Surely the best time to have bought Novel would’ve been a month ago: http://www.google.co.uk/finance?client=ob&q=NASDAQ:NOVL🙂

  2. This is nonsense.

    Novell are a Linux distributor. They release software under the GPL.

    So even if some evil hedge fund buys them up, the rest of the world still has a licence to use that code, with supporting documentation filed by Novell in its case against SCO.

    A change in ownership might well be bad news for Novell, but it will make little difference to the rest of us.

    Vic.

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