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Red Hat Strikes Back At SCO, Saying "It's Time To Act"

Red Hat Strikes Back At SCO, Saying "It's Time To Act"

by , 11:00 AM EDT, August 5th, 2003

The fur continues to fly in the SCO vs. Linux brouhaha as Red Hat, a major provider of Linux, filed a lawsuit against SCO this week. The C|Net report says that Red Hat is seeking to get the courts to state that its version of Linux has no copyright violations.

SCO is in the process of suing IBM for US$3 billion for what it says is violations of both its copyrights and patents for Unix in Linux. Though Red Hat is not named in that suit, SCO has been sending letters to Red Hat corporate customers, along with customers of IBM and other major Linux vendors, demanding that they pay a licensing fee to SCO to prevent litigation from SCO. Red Hat's new suit seeks damages from SCO for loss of revenue due to SCO's campaign against IBM in particular, and Linux in general. From the C|Net News report; Red Hat files suit against SCO:

Red Hat escalated the legal war over Linux on Monday by announcing that it has filed a lawsuit against the SCO Group.

The seven-count suit seeks, among other things, a declaratory judgment that Red Hat has not violated SCO's copyrights or trade secrets, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said at a news conference here Monday.

"We have asked the courts to declare, 'No violation of intellectual property and trade secrets have occurred,'" Szulik said. "We've been patient, we've listened, but when our customers and the whole open-source community are threatened with innuendo and rumor, it's time to act."

SCO rebuffed Red Hat's assertions. "SCO's claims are true, and we look forward to proving them in court," the company said in a statement. "SCO has not been trying to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt to end-users. We have been educating end-users on the risks of running an operating system that is an unauthorized derivative of Unix. Linux includes source code that is a verbatim copy of Unix and carries with it no warranty or indemnification."

You can read the full article at C|Net.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Apple and the users of OS X can sit back and watch this cat fight unfold, but we shouldn't get too comfortable. SCO is not just fighting for what it believes is its right to license royalties, it is fighting to stay alive.

SCO, at one time, was the only game in town if you wanted to run UNIX on a PC. As processors became more powerful, tinkerers and academics found that they could shoehorn other stripped down version of UNIX onto PCs, and it was only a matter of time before processors became powerful enough to handle a full blown implementation of UNIX in the various forms and spin-offs we see today. When that happened, SCO found itself in a field crowded with cheap, but very capable competitors, and it just couldn't compete.

The tiff SCO has with IBM is a long and involved story, but while trying to squeeze IBM for more dough, SCO realized that it possibly didn't have to limit itself to just IBM, it could attack anyone with a UNIX variant, and therein lies the nugget over which Apple should be concerned.

With FreeBSD (a Unix variant that has a separate history and legal background from the version of Unix owned by SCO) at its core, OS X may fall well within the range of SCO's campaign to get paid. You can bet that Apple's famed legal beagles are scrutinizing SCO's UNIX claim from every angle to see how it may affect Apple if SCO turns its sights on 1 Infinite Loop. It could be that Apple and IBM may have more in common than the 970 processor.

One has to wonder if SCO would be so bold if it didn't have the blessing, if not the backing, of the Gates Gang. Microsoft stands to win a lot if SCO's claim bears fruit, and many took it as no big surprise when Big Redmond promptly licensed Unix from SCO after the IBM suit was announced. Customers get nervous when something so fundamental to their business suddenly starts looking shaky and may start looking for alternatives to UNIX/Linux. Guess who has the only non-UNIX alternative?

In the meanwhile, we follow this story because we strongly believe that Apple's future will be much more secure the more successful Linux is. Apple will get a much more positive reception from the market as one of several alternatives to Windows, as opposed to being the only alternative to Windows. There's a big mind-shift in that difference, but that's a subject for another day. For today, we would like to see Linux alive, well, and strong, and we are pleased to see Red Hat tackling the issue so aggressively.

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