Who Owns Unix Trademark

Operating Systems

As a tech enthusiast and a lover of all things UNIX, I have always been curious about the ownership of the UNIX trademark. Unix, the iconic operating system that has shaped the digital landscape, has a rich history filled with legal battles and controversies. In this article, I will delve deep into the topic and explore the complex web of ownership surrounding the UNIX trademark.

UNIX was initially developed by a team of programmers at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories in the 1960s. However, as the UNIX operating system gained popularity and started to be licensed to other companies, the issue of trademark ownership became a point of contention.

Over the years, ownership of the UNIX trademark has changed hands multiple times. The original trademark was held by AT&T and its successor companies, who granted licenses to various UNIX versions produced by different vendors. However, in 1993, Novell acquired the UNIX trademark from AT&T and became the official owner.

Novell’s ownership of the UNIX trademark didn’t last long, as they sold it to The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) in 1995. SCO, a software company that specialized in UNIX products and services, became the new custodian of the UNIX trademark.

Things took a dramatic turn in the early 2000s when SCO filed a lawsuit against IBM, claiming that IBM had violated their UNIX copyrights by incorporating code into the Linux operating system. This legal battle, known as the SCO-Linux dispute, brought the ownership of the UNIX trademark into the limelight.

The SCO-Linux dispute dragged on for years, involving multiple legal battles and creating uncertainty in the UNIX community. Many companies and individuals were closely following the case’s developments, as the outcome could have significant implications for the future of UNIX and open-source software.

In 2010, the legal battle came to an end when a federal court ruled that Novell, not SCO, was the true owner of the UNIX copyrights. This ruling dealt a severe blow to SCO’s claims and effectively ended their pursuit of the UNIX trademark.

Since then, the UNIX trademark has been under the control of The Open Group, a consortium of companies that promotes and develops open standards. The Open Group acts as a steward for the UNIX trademark, ensuring compliance with the Single UNIX Specification and granting the right to use the UNIX brand to certified operating systems.

It’s worth noting that while The Open Group manages the UNIX trademark, the UNIX operating system has evolved into different flavors known as UNIX-like operating systems. These include popular systems like Linux, macOS, and various BSD distributions.

In conclusion, the ownership of the UNIX trademark has seen its fair share of twists and turns over the years. From AT&T to Novell, SCO, and finally The Open Group, different entities have held control of this iconic brand. Despite the legal battles and controversies, UNIX has persisted and continues to be an integral part of the tech industry.