A US judge's ruling that Novell, not The SCO Group, owns the copyrights to Unix has thrust the intellectual property battles begun by SCO in early 2003 back into the IT spotlight.
But several IT managers and industry analysts said this week that they long ago stopped viewing SCO's legal campaign against Linux backers as a threat to users.
Some added, though, that a potentially serious legal threat still exists, in the form of Microsoft's claim earlier this year that Linux and other open-source technologies infringe on 235 of its patents.
Jon Callas, who is both chief technology officer and chief security officer at PGP, said the pro-Novell ruling handed down 10 August was "a small relief" for his company. PGP uses Red Hat Linux and Novell's SUSE Linux internally, and it sells server-level security tools that run on a custom version of Linux.
Callas said that when SCO first sued IBM, Novell and other companies, PGP officials set contingency plans to switch to the FreeBSD version of Unix. But it has never come to that, he said.
Gartner analyst George Weiss agreed that Kimball's ruling should help relax any jittery Linux users. But he cautioned end users not not forget that Microsoft "has stepped up to the plate on the patent- infringement side."
Darl McBride, SCO's president and CEO, wrote in a letter to customers and business partners that company officials "will continue to explore our options with respect to how we move forward from here."
But SCO's legal claims ran out of steam long before Kimball's ruling, said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group in San Jose. He wrote in an e-mail that most users have "looked at this like a soap opera, and not one they were particularly interested in anymore."