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Posted: 11:00 AM- A federal judge has set an April trial date to determine how much, if anything, The SCO Group owes Novell Inc. for unauthorized licensing of computer software -- a potential bill of around $35 million.

Federal Judge Dale Kimball scheduled the four-day bench trial to begin April 29 in Salt Lake City.

The trial concerns a high-profile case The SCO Group filed in March 2003 claiming IBM breached its Unix software code licenses from SCO by putting portions of that code into the Linux operating system.

The Linux source code -- the heart of the software computer operating system -- unlike other operating systems, such as Microsoft's, is open to the public and can be freely altered by individuals or companies for their own use or for redistribution and sale.

Lindon-based SCO filed a second lawsuit in January 2004 asserting that Novell was trying to interfere with its ownership of the Unix copyrights that SCO claims it purchased in 1995. But on Aug. 10, Kimball ruled that Novell, not SCO, owned the disputed copyrights.

The trial will determine whether SCO owes Novell for licensing Unix to other companies. Payment of any judgment, however, probably would depend on rulings in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, where SCO in September filed for protection from creditors in order to reorganize.

SCO CEO Darl McBride has vowed to appeal Kimball's August ruling.