The SCO Group Inc. will have to pay Novell Corp. more than $2.5 million in a technology-licensing dispute, but that's far less than the nearly $20 million to which Novell had said it was entitled.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball in Salt Lake City this week said Novell should get $2,547,817 from Lindon-based SCO, which is in bankruptcy.

The case began as a "slander of title" lawsuit against Novell involving questions over ownership of the Unix operating system and UnixWare software copyrights. But Kimball ruled last year that Novell was the owner. Novell was seeking revenues that SCO received from Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and other Fortune 1000 companies when SCO licensed certain Unix technology to them.

The Novell-SCO dispute was an offshoot of another SCO lawsuit, against International Business Machines Corp., filed in 2003. SCO accused IBM of improperly placing proprietary Unix code into Linux, an open-source operating system that competed with Unix.

SCO filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware last September. Stephen Norris & Co. Capital Partners LP has said it wants to negotiate to buy SCO's assets.

SCO's lawsuit against IBM has been stayed because of the bankruptcy.

Kimball ruled Wednesday that Novell was entitled to one-third of more than $7.6 million paid by Sun under its agreement with SCO. He concluded that SCO was entitled to enter into certain licensing-related agreements but was not authorized to enter into the Sun agreement.

SCO issued a statement saying it is reviewing Kimball's ruling and assessing its next steps.

"This ruling is an important step in our ability to pursue the appeals to try to get all of our claims heard by a jury as soon as possible," SCO said. "We are pleased, however, that the court agreed that Novell is not entitled to anywhere near the more than $20 million it was seeking.

The court ruled that Novell has no right to any royalties from UnixWare or OpenServer sales by SCO, which is where the bulk of SCO's revenue is earned. SCO said this was "an important step forward in the capitalization and reorganization plan for SCO" that will allow the company "to emerge from Chapter 11."

"We continue to disagree with the premise of this trial and believe that Novell is not owed anything but that they have interfered with SCO's UNIX rights," SCO said.


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com