SCO puts Unix assets on the block

SCO hopes to protect UNIX system V customers by having another company manage the software

Even as it continues to battle for Unix ownership in court, the SCO Group plans to auction off most all of its Unix assets, including "certain UNIX system V software products and related services," the company announced Thursday.

Interested parties must submit a bid for the assets by 5 October.

"This asset sale is an important step forward in ensuring business continuity for our customers around the world," said Ken Nielsen, SCO chief financial officer, in a statement. "Our goal is to ensure continued viability for SCO, its customers, employees and the Unix technology."

SCO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008, though it has since continued to sell and service System V software. The company claims that the System V software on the block will be free of any bankruptcy-related liens or encumbrances.

SCO sued IBM in 2003 for putatively contributing Unix code to the open-source Linux OS. IBM won that case, though the following year SCO sued Novell over the ownership rights of Unix. Although that case was decided earlier this summer in favor of Novell as well, SCO has since appealed the ruling.

AT&T first released System V, an update of the Unix OS, in 1983. In 1993, AT&T sold the software to Novell. In 1995, Novell sold its Unix business unit to SCO, along with distribution rights to System V.

Like all Unix vendors, SCO has been feeling the competitive pinch with System V, both from Linux distributions and from Microsoft Windows Server. Worldwide software license revenue for SCO has dropped almost by half from 2007 to 2009, from $US16 million in 2007 to $7 million in 2009, according to IDC estimates.

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