15 September 2007

Celebrating bad news

The SCO Group filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday.


SCO seems to me to be a intellectual-property troll writ large.

Patent "trolling," for those of you who don't know the lingo, is the creation of dubious claims to intellectual property in the expectation that the mere nuisance value of litigation will be worth a payoff. Sometimes they're called "patent hoarders."

Both terms obviously have a negative connotation, which is as it should be, because the unproductive misuse of patents is a brake on the economic system.

To be technical, though, SCO's trolling actually involved copyright, which is more rare, but an IP troll is a troll all the same.

Just one week before its bankruptcy filing, SCO lost big in court. Specifically, in the Utah courtroom of the Hon. Dale Kimball, federal district court judge.

Kimball decided that Novell is the true owner of the crucial intellectual property that SCO has been claiming for years, and on the basis of which SCO has brought its spate of lawsuits -- such as a lawsuit against AutoZone for running versions of the Linux operating system in the course of its business.

I'm reminded of an episode of the now defunct sitcom Newhart. Not the one where Bob played a psychologist - the one where he was an innkeeper. At any rate, Bob's character is introduced to an elderly and welathy man. Asked how he made his money, the old coot said, "I'm a sewer." Or at least that's how it sounded.

Turned out he meant to say that he was a professional plaintiff -- a suer.

Some people may make money that way but the rest of us are the poorer, and I'm very glad that SCO won't get to be a sewer any longer.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.