Novell steering clear of SCO Group buyout, attorney says

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Novell Inc. has had no contact with the head of a company trying to buy the bankrupt SCO Group and plans to go ahead with a trial next month to determine how much SCO may owe it for licensing the Unix operating system, officials said Monday.

Last month, Stephen Norris, head of the Stephen Norris Capital Partners that is bidding to buy majority interest in the Lindon-based SCO Group, said he hoped the planned investment would spur settlement of the SCO-Novell lawsuit.

But Ryan Richards, Novell's acting general counsel, said Monday at the company's BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City that there had been no contact with Norris, and Novell had yet to see details of the proposed takeover.

However, Novell President and CEO Ronald Hovsepian indicated his company might be open to a settlement.

"We're business people first and foremost so we're always open to doing the right thing for our customers and partners," he said.

The SCO Group sued IBM in 2003 for $5 billion contending IBM used Unix as the basis for making significant changes to the Linux operating system that made it viable commercially.

SCO subsequently sued Novell for interfering with its Unix ownership rights. But a federal judge ruled against SCO last year and set trial for April on licensing fees of up to $35 million that the SCO Group might owe Novell.

- Tom Harvey