Software Musings

A Great Week in Court

Posted on: 03/04/2010

This week has seen two significant court cases resolved in a manner which give me increased confidence in the UK’s and the USA’s legal systems (Canada, where I live, works on the principle that if the Prime Minister thinks that a person is a terrorist then that person has to be locked up).

On a more positive note Simon Singh MBE has been cleared in London of libelling the British Chiropractic Association in saying that there was no shred of evidence that their treatments could help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying. As you will know, there have been online petitions and pressure on the UK government to make the UK’s libel laws more reasonable and thereby cut down on libel tourism to the UK.

The second positive result came from Utah where a jury of people with no knowledge of the travails between SCO, IBM and Novell (with counterpoint from Microsoft and others) regarding UNIX and Linux sat down to determine whether SCO’s predecessor (Santa Cruz) did, or did not, get the UNIX copyrights from Novell back in 1995. I am frankly amazed that 12 people, particularly 12 people from Utah where SCO is based, who knew nothing of the argument could be found for the jury but apparently they could. Of course, Groklaw has changed the way in which technological cases can be analysed by the community, by the people who actually know. SCO felt, however, and I tended to agree, that if they could get the case (already lost elsewhere) in front of a non-technologically adept bunch of Utahians in a jury box then they could win. But they lost. As Novell said:

“Novell is very pleased with the jury’s decision confirming Novell’s ownership of the Unix copyrights, which SCO had asserted to own in its attack on Linux,” a Novell spokesperson said. “Novell remains committed to promoting Linux, including by defending Linux on the intellectual property front.”

So this has been a good week in the courts. At least in the UK and USA. Perhaps next week Mohamed Harkat will be exonerated.

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Disclaimer

The author of this blog used to be an employee of Nortel. Even when he worked for Nortel the views expressed in the blog did not represent the views of Nortel. Now that he has left, the chances are even smaller that his views match those of Nortel.
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