The jury in The SCO Group v. Novell, Inc. litigation over ownership of the copyrights in UNIX source code has ruled in favor of Novell, the company announced on its blog this afternoon. Novell had previously prevailed on the issue of copyright ownership in a ruling by Judge Dale Kimball on Novell’s motion for summary judgment, but as we blogged in August 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed that ruling, holding that the issue of copyright ownership was, under the circumstances presented, an issue for the jury. The jury in the federal district court in Utah spoke in Novell’s favor following a three-week jury trial before Judge Ted Stewart (following Judge Kimball’s recusal and subsequent retirement).

Presumably, the next act in this long-running drama (the litigation commenced in 2005) will focus on SCO’s litigation against IBM, which was stayed when SCO filed a (still pending) bankruptcy proceeding. The ownership of the copyrights that are the subject of this jury verdict underlie SCO’s claims in that litigation that IBM infringed SCO’s copyrights by contributing certain of the UNIX source code to the open source Linux operating system project. And on that basis, SCO has claimed that the Linux operating system itself infringes SCO’s copyrights, and has sought licensing fees from users of the Linux OS.

Whether SCO will be financially able to continue following this verdict remains to be seen.