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The Big Blue Empire Strikes Back: IBM Countersues SCO

The Big Blue Empire Strikes Back: IBM Countersues SCO

by , 4:00 PM EDT, August 7th, 2003

SCO may have launched the first missile, but it seems to be getting a barrage in return. Hot on the heels of Red Hat's suit against SCO, which was filed Monday, C|Net is reporting that IBM has filed a countersuit against SCO in which it says that SCO has no right to sue IBM because it distributed a version of Linux under the General Public License, thus making all code in that distribution available to anyone, including IBM. Further, IBM is asking for an unspecified amount of damages for business losses incurred after SCO announced that IBM's UNIX license was voided. From the C|Net article "Big Blue files counterclaims against SCO:"

In a 45-page document that it filed late Wednesday, IBM argues that because SCO distributed a version of Linux under the open-source General Public License (GPL), it can't claim that Linux software is proprietary. IBM also argues that SCO software violates four IBM patents and that the company interfered with IBM's business by saying it had terminated IBM's right to ship a Unix product, AIX.

IBM is seeking unspecified monetary damages and an injunction to stop SCO from shipping its software. The counterclaims came as part of Big Blue's answer to SCO's amended suit and were filed in the same federal district court in Utah.

A SCO representative declined to comment immediately on the counterclaims.

Read the full article at C|Net.

The Mac Observer Spin:

SCO opened this can of worms, now we get to see if it can stomach it.

Friends of Linux should be cheering, or at least smiling with satisfaction at this move from IBM. It validates what they've known all along, that IBM would not sit still while SCO deals its potentially deadly blows to Linux. IBM has far too much at stake as it has invested heavily in Linux. The loss of revenue just from SCO attempt at voiding IBM's UNIX license would be enough to make anyone fight back, but IBM took its time and studied the situation carefully. A lot is at stake, and mistakes could be more than unfortunate; if SCO gets the legal upper hand, then IBM's Linux effort, Red Hat, and many other Linux implementations could potentially disappear. What a loss that would be.

Mac users have something to cheer about, too. We've said before that a healthy Linux market is good for Apple and OS X. We believe the two OSes compliment each other well, each helping to bring apps to the other due to the similarities in the underlying kernels. Further, a healthy Linux market provides a broader competitive base, offering more choice to the consumer. All of this is something the Gates Gang would not like to see, and so this IBM news has an extra shine to it.

There is obviously no way to prove it, but if Microsoft is behind SCO's recent behavior you have to sit back and admire the Redmond based company for its cunning.

If SCO wins (however unlikely), Microsoft wins because then it would have eliminated its chief competition, Linux. If SCO loses, Microsoft has lost nothing. It can't be linked to SCO's actions, and so Big Redmond comes out smelling like a rose.

If only they could redirect that energy into something more constructive.

In the meanwhile, we have to wonder if IBM is effectively admitting that there is SCO copyrighted code in the Linux kernel. By claiming that SCO's release of Linux under a GPL license means that anything in it is available to the Open Source community, it seems that IBM is implicitly saying that there is Unix code included in that release in the first place. Look for something to that effect from SCO in the near future.

This situation continues to become more interesting, but we hope it actually becomes a non-issue sooner, rather than later.

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