Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Novell Inc. has decided to follow Hewlett-Packard Co.’s lead and indemnify its enterprise Linux customers against possible legal action by The SCO Group and/or others.

Novell is expected to announce its Linux Indemnification Program late on Monday, sources close to the company told eWEEK. A Novell spokesman would not confirm this, adding that the company does not comment on speculation.

The new indemnification program is designed to provide its SuSE Enterprise Linux customers with protection against intellectual-property challenges to Linux and to help reduce the barriers to Linux adoption in the enterprise.

Under the terms of the program, Novell will offer indemnification for copyright infringement claims made by third parties against registered Novell customers who obtain SuSE Enterprise Linux 8 after January 13, 2004, upgrade protection and a qualifying technical support contract from Novell or a Novell channel partner.

Customers will also have to accept the program terms and conditions, including caps and other limitations imposed, the sources said.

Novell’s program for cultivating new SuSE Linux users

Novell is also planning a program for those enterprise Linux users who are not currently Novell SuSE Linux users. The program, which will be announced later, will help them become Novell SuSE Linux customers and qualify for the indemnification.

Novell’s Linux indemnification move follows its recent acquisitions of open source developer Ximian Inc. and SuSE Linux. Novell announced in August that it had acquired Ximian and in November said it had offered to buy SuSE Linux for $210 million.

Novell executives are also expected to announce on Monday that the SuSE deal has been completed. That will mean that SuSE’s Linux distributions join the Novell family of products and allow Novell to offer customers a complete Linux-solution stack and global technical Linux support.

The company’s indemnification move today also follows that of HP, which in September announced that it would indemnify its customers against any legal liability from the use of Linux.

At that time Martin Fink, a vice president at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard, said the company would indemnify new customers who buy Linux from HP, agree not to make unauthorized changes to the source code and sign a standard support contract.

The need to indemnify enterprise Linux users follows legal action by SCO against IBM for allegedly incorporating parts of proprietary Unix code into Linux. SCO holds the rights to Unix.

In November, SCO CEO Darl McBride threatened to sue enterprise Linux users within 90 days for copyright infringement.

Novell executives are also on Monday expected to release additional information on the contractual and intellectual property rights it holds because of its former ownership of Unix and UnixWare.

To read more about Novell’s claims to Unix, click here.

The company is expected to announce that it has the rights to license Unix technology pursuant to a Technology License Agreement between SCO and Novell, including Novell’s right to authorize its customers to use that Unix technology in their internal business operations.

It also claims to have the rights to take action on behalf of SCO under legacy Unix SVRX licenses pursuant to the Asset Purchase Agreement between SCO and Novell.