Attachmate to retain Novell Unix copyrights

Settling a rampage of rumors, Novell clarifies that Attachmate, not Microsoft, will own Unix copyright

Novell's copyrights for the Unix operating system will remain under Attachmate's control as part of the companies' pending merger, a Novell spokesman said Wednesday.

The confirmation, which came in a terse message posted to Novell's website, seems to rule out questions of whether Unix assets are part of some 882 patents being sold to a Microsoft-led consortium, CPTN Holdings, as part of the deal.

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"Novell will continue to own Novell's UNIX copyrights following completion of the merger as a subsidiary of Attachmate," the message stated.

On Monday, Novell announced that it agreed to be acquired by Attachmate. As part of the $2.2 billion deal, Novell initially stated that it would sell unspecified intellectual property to a Microsoft-led holdings company.

This vague statement led many to wonder whether Microsoft somehow had acquired the Unix copyrights as part of the deal. In March, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah confirmed that Novell owned the copyrights around Unix, ending a seven-year battle between SCO and Novell over ownership rights.

Microsoft has also asserted that various bits of Microsoft intellectual property are embedded in Linux -- Linux is a version of the Unix operating system kernel -- though it has thus far failed to point out the offending code. Novell, however, signed a five-year agreement with Microsoft that would indemnify users of its Linux-based operating system, SUSE, from Microsoft legal action.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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