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SCO Group Plans To Litigate Itself Into Relevancy, Files Lawsuit Against IBM

SCO Group Plans To Litigate Itself Into Relevancy, Files Lawsuit Against IBM

by , 12:00 PM EST, March 7th, 2003

According to an article in eWeek, SCO Group has filed a lawsuit in the State Court of Utah against IBM, claiming that IBM worked to "destroy the economic value of Unix" by pushing systems running the Linux operating system and alledgedly sharing AIX (IBM's commercial Unix distribution) source code with Linux developers.

SCO Group, formerly known as Caldera International, purchased rights and ownership of Unix from AT&T in 1995. SCO gained ownership of the Unix name, source code and documentation, development contracts, licenses, and other property related to Unix. All commercial Unix distributors, such as IBM, Silicon Graphics (IRIX), and Sun (Solaris), purchased licenses from AT&T in order to make their own versions of Unix. When SCO purchased Unix from AT&T, they also gained control of these licenses.

SCO is demanding $1 billion in damages from IBM. They are also threatening to pull IBM's Unix license if IBM does not comply within 100 days. From eWeek:

"SCO is in the enviable position of owning the UNIX operating system," said Darl McBride, president and CEO, SCO, in an interview with eWeek Thursday. "It is clear from our stand point that we have an extremely compelling case against IBM. SCO has more than 30,000 contracts with UNIX licensees and upholding these contracts is as important today as the day they were signed."

McBride said the bottom line was that SCO owned the source code to Unix and the right to that operating system. IBM had taken AIX and made it available to the Linux community in an unlawful way.

"IBM has been happily giving part of the AIX code away to the Linux community, but the problem is that they don't own the AIX code," he said. "And so it's a huge problem for us. We have been talking to IBM in this regard since early December and have reached an impasse. This was thus the only way forward for us."

The Unix contracts held by SCO were "extremely powerful and one of the remedies under the contract is that we have the ability to revoke their AIX license," he said. "We have to give them 100 days notice before we do that. If they don't cure the problems we have then we will revoke their license. We sent them a letter today informing them of that, so the 100-day clock has started."

The article goes on to mention that SCO has even hired an expensive legal firm to look for ways to sue Microsoft, Apple, and various distributions of Linux and BSD for infringing on AT&T/SCO's intellectual property. You can read the full article at eWeek. Be sure you don't miss the small link to the second page of the article.

The Mac Observer Spin:

The original SCO has an interesting history because of its historic roots in the early days of Unix. The current incarnation of SCO is interesting in relation to its roots as Caldera. The two shouldn't be confused, however, as Caldera's history has mostly centered around issuing law suits, while SCO developed operating systems. Caldera sued Microsoft, accusing that company of including code in Windows 3.x that broke DR-DOS, an operating system that competed with Microsoft's own DOS. That suit was eventually settled for US$150 million.

This suit is an interesting approach for the company. One might almost think that it bought SCO in order to find people to sue, since its pursuit of Microsoft was complete. Certainly it seems a decade or so too late to be saying that Linux and FreeBSD distributors have somehow used material covered by SCO's licenses, but the courts will have to figure that out. The company brought Microsoft to settlement, but then many people agree that Microsoft did indeed intentionally break DR-DOS, though we'll never know for sure. It will be fascinating to see how SCO does against a company that is much larger than Microsoft, IBM. For our money, we hope they lose this one.

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