Court grants delay in Apple/Open Group Unix lawsuit

A long-running court case between Apple Computer Inc. and The Open Group will continue into next year after the two companies asked that the time for negotiations be extended.

The Open Group, under the name X/Open Company Inc., filed a complaint in the San Jose, Northern California District Court in December 2001, claiming that Apple was infringing its trademark by using the word Unix in connection with its OS X product.

Apple responded by saying that the word Unix has become generic and has been abandoned as a trademark. The public, it said, does not recognize X/Open Company or any other company as being the source of the word Unix.

In their filing this week Apple and X/Open Company jointly requested that dates set by the court in February be extended. The two companies have reached a resolution to the main areas of dispute during settlement negotiations, but will need until July 18 to complete the documentation and other research that is needed, they said in the joint filing.

They have therefore asked that the fact discovery cut-off date be moved from June 6 to Aug. 29, with a pretrial conference on Jan. 22 and the jury trial to be moved from Dec. 15 to Feb. 9, 2004. District Judge Ronald M Whyte granted the request and ordered that the schedule for the case be modified.

The Open Group describes itself on its Web site as an "international vendor and technology-neutral consortium committed to delivering greater business efficiency" through interoperability testing. It has owned the registered trademark "Unix" since 1994, according to the Web site.

Neither Apple nor the Open Group were immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, the SCO Group Inc. and Novell Inc. are involved in arguments over who owns the copyright for the Unix operating system itself. Novell said last month that it had not transferred the Unix copyrights or patents to SCO when it sold the operating system in 1995. However, last week SCO claimed to have proof that it did, in fact, own all the copyrights involved.

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