The outstanding litigation between Apple and the Open Group returns to court in two months time.

At issue is the Open Group's trademark on the name Unix, which Apple employs extensively in discussion of its software technologies. The Open Group wants Apple to pay an annual $100,000 fee to license the name – and Apple doesn't like this idea.

osView writer Kelly McNeill spoke with the Open Group and a tech lawyer to put the dispute in perspective. There's still space to negotiate, according to an Open Group rep, who said: "As of now however, we wouldn't object to an arrangement with Apple to get the matter taken care of."

There is an argument that the word Unix has become so prevalent that it has become generic. The lawyer told McNeill: "Apple will argue that the Open Group has lost any rights to the "Unix" name as the term has become so common in the industry in relation to types of operating systems that the term "Unix" no longer is associated with the Open Group's trademarked product".

The report also observes the random nature of litigation – courts make their own decisions, so neither side can be assured of the outcome.

"If either side loses this battle, there could be far-reaching consequences for each company. For Apple, the danger is significant but much less than for The Open Group. Mac OS X and its successors will be hampered if Apple does not advertise that its OS is Unix based. This would be costly but not be catastrophic."

If the Open Group wins it may get some money from Apple – if it loses, then its Unix name will have lost its trademark status, potentially destroying the company.

The lawyer anticipates a short court battle with a confidential out-of-court joint settlement between the two to end the case.