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SCO Group Seeks To Add Novell To Unix Infringement Suit

Motion charges Novell with copyright infringement and breaching the noncompete provisions of a 1995 agreement.

SCO Group is seeking to name Novell as a Linux supplier that is infringing SCO's copyrights to Unix, according to a motion it has put before U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball in Utah.

SCO is engaged in a suit against IBM for contributing code to Linux that SCO claims it holds the rights to. It has also sued users AutoZone Inc. and DaimlerChrysler AG. But its motion to name Novell as a defendant is its first direct move against a Linux supplier.

The motion was filed Dec. 30 and asks the judge for permission to file an amended complaint that names Novell as well as the other parties.

SCO is charging that Novell committed a breach of a 1995 agreement that sold Novell's Unix assets to the former Santa Cruz Operation, a predecessor company to the SCO Group, by violating the noncompete provisions of the agreement. Novell is a leading distributor of Linux and other open-source software.

SCO is also charging copyright infringement "based on Novell's unauthorized distribution, in its Linux offerings, of Unix technology" beyond the rights granted it by the Santa Cruz Operation, according to the petition.

The escalation in the case doesn't necessarily stem from an increased aggressiveness by SCO Group. The group's petition before the judge says that Novell in July responded to the initial suit against IBM, AutoZone, and DaimlerChrysler with a statement of counterclaims, listing seven causes of action against SCO Group. Novell's claims include that the SCO Group has twice breached their 1995 agreement. Novell said in an Answer and Counterclaims, filed July 29 with the court, that it has a basis for a claim of "restitution/unjust enrichment" against SCO Group.

"Novell's counterclaims significantly expand the scope of the litigation," asserts SCO Group's request to the judge to amend its original filing and add Novell to the parties charged with infringing its copyrights.

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