(Recasts, adds Novell comment, background)
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 10 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge ruled on Friday that software company SCO Group SCOX.O did not have copyrights that are key to its claims of ownership of technology used in Linux software.
Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court for Utah said Novell Inc NOVL.O, rather than SCO, owns copyrights to the UNIX computer operating system, which also jeopardizes a related SCO lawsuit against IBM (IBM.N).
IBM and Novell are both major supporters of Linux.
“The court’s ruling has cut out the core of SCO’s case and, as a result, eliminates SCO’s threat to the Linux community based upon allegations of copyright infringement of UNIX,” Novell said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased with the outcome.”
The judge also said Novell was now “entitled, at its sole discretion, to direct SCO to waive” its claim against International Business Machines Corp.
SCO sued IBM in March 2003, alleging IBM had violated UNIX licensing agreements and introduced part of its UNIX source code, or software blueprint, into Linux.
Novell then said it had not transferred UNIX copyrights to SCO in a 1996 asset sale.
SCO was not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Scott Hillis, with additional reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston and Peter Henderson in Los Angeles)