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Novell Inc. on Monday confirmed reports that it has registered 11 copyrights on the Unix System V source code that is at the center of the SCO Group Inc.’s legal battles with the Linux operating system.

Novell, prompted by reports of the registrations on the Groklaw Web site, said in a statementthat “it owns the copyrights in UNIX, and has applied for and received copyright registrations pertaining to UNIX consistent with that position.” Novell received the copyright registrations in September and October, a spokesman said.

The move pits Novell against SCO with dueling copyright registrations to much of the same Unix code. Lindon, Utah-based SCO earlier in the year had filed its own registrations of Unix copyrights.

A SCO spokesman on Monday said that Novell’s registrations would not alter its legal plans. Already embroiled in a suit with IBM over contract infringement, SCO has said it plans to sue at least one large Linux user over copyright infringement by mid-February. SCO on Monday also sent a new letter to some corporate Linux users that identified code it alleges infringes on its Unix copyrights.

Novell, of Provo, Utah, acquired the Unix System V code from AT&T in 1992, sold it to The Santa Cruz Operation Inc. in 1995. SCO (then named Caldera Inc.) later acquired most of Santa Cruz Operations.

“(Novell) has registered copyrights for which they have no ownership of those products or that technology,” SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said. “It would be ludicrous for our company to not also attain the copyright when we purchased that technology.”

Novell also released correspondencebetween its senior vice president and general counsel, Joseph A. LaSala, Jr., and SCO in which Novell disputes SCO’s public statement about the ownership of Unix copyrights. The letters revolve around an amendment to the 1995 asset purchase agreement for Unix. Novell argues that Amendment 2 of the agreement did not transfer the copyrights, while SCO disagrees.