A skeptical federal judge earlier had ruled that Novell had retained Unix copyrights when it sold its Unix business to the Santa Cruz Operation, a company whose Unix assets SCO Group later acquired. But the appeals court overturned that decision, based in part on a close reading of the Unix asset purchase agreement, sending the matter to trial for a decision. The appeals court did uphold a ruling that SCO owed Novell royalty payments, though, according to a 55-page filing.
SCO Group Chief Executive Darl McBride, who's been demonized by the Linux faithful, was happy with the decision. "Today is not the end of the war but it certainly is a key battle that we've won," he said in a statement in the Salt Lake Tribune. "Now it's time to move on to the next series of battles with our victory in hand."