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|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] SCO warns commercial Linux users of potential 'legal liability'
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From: "Inker, Evan"
Subject: [hangout] SCO warns commercial Linux users of potential 'legal liability'
Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 23:11:36 +0100
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SCO warns commercial Linux users of potential 'legal liability'
By TODD R. WEISS
MAY 14, 2003
Content Type: Story
Unix and Linux vendor The SCO Group today warned all commercial Linux users
that they could be in the company's widening legal cross hairs until it
resolves legal claims related to its Unix intellectual property. The "legal
liability for the use of Linux may extend to commercial users," Lindon,
Utah-based SCO said today in an announcement in which it also said it plans
to immediately halt the sales and distribution of its own Linux products
because of the company's ongoing legal claims that Linux is an "unauthorized
derivative of Unix."
For SCO, which says it has owned the rights to the Unix operating system
since 1995, this is the third major Linux industry punch the company has
thrown this year.
In March, SCO stunned the Linux world when it sued IBM for $1 billion,
alleging that the company misappropriated trade secrets related to SCO's
Unix products to benefit IBM's Linux strategy (see story). That lawsuit came
just two months after SCO announced that it was creating a new SCOsource
division that would be charged with strictly enforcing its Unix position as
the "majority owner of Unix intellectual property" (see story).
In today's announcement, SCO said "that until the attendant risks with Linux
are better understood and properly resolved, the company will suspend all of
its future sales of the Linux operating system." That also includes the sale
and distribution of its UnitedLinux offering, SCO Linux Server 4.0, Powered
Darl McBride, the CEO of SCO, said in an interview with Computerworld that
today's actions are being taken to warn Linux customers and vendor partners
that SCO is continuing to fight to protect its Unix intellectual property.
"This is very significant," he said. "These are our crown jewels we're
Letters have been posted on SCO's Web site to Linux customers and to SCO
partners and vendors explaining why the company is taking this new position.
"We've warned them that there's a problem here," McBride said.
The company is advising customers to get their own legal interpretations on
how their use of Linux might be affected by SCO's recent legal fight and to
make decisions based on their own situations, he said.
For Linux vendors, "the decision to continue to ship [Linux] would be at
their own peril," McBride said. SCO is "putting everyone on notice that this
is tainted and that users are potentially carrying the risk."
SCO will help its customers through the situation with a hotline and other
assistance, he said.
McBride said the company isn't targeting individual Linux users but is going
after commercial Linux users who are benefiting from Unix code without
paying for its use.
"You will not see us calling on some hacker in a garage," he said. "We're
ready to go the distance. We are prepared to take as long as it takes ... to
get these IP [intellectual property] rights with Linux resolved."
McBride said he doesn't want to see the end of Linux, but instead wants to
see SCO get its just rewards for Unix code that SCO alleges has been taken
and used improperly in the Linux operating system.
"The world is not about stealing people's code, laundering it and saying
everything's OK," McBride said. "In the end, what you could see come out of
this is legal Linux. You will see Linux getting stronger IP roots [that] it
will be able to sustain for a long period of time, instead of getting
knocked down the first time somebody comes along and blows a little IP wind
SCO said it will continue to support existing SCO Linux and Caldera
OpenLinux customers and hold them harmless from any SCO intellectual
property issues regarding SCO Linux and Caldera OpenLinux products.
While the legal battles continue, SCO said it will pursue a stronger focus
on its Unix products and on its recently announced SCOx Web services
Al Gillen, an analyst at market research firm IDC in Framingham, Mass., said
SCO's action today "was always possible" after the company took action
against IBM in March.
"They're basically rattling their sabers," Gillen said. "I think this
effectively ends their position as a member of the Linux community. I don't
think the community will accept The SCO Group as a participant in the
community anymore in any way, shape or form at this point. It's a one-way
SCO's move to halt its sales of its Linux products isn't a huge sacrifice
for the company, he said, because those sales are under $1 million per year,
far less than rival Linux vendors such as Red Hat Inc.
Instead, today's announcement could signal a change in the company's
direction, he said. "It could be that they're going to become an IP
licensing company with no products," Gillen said. "This sounds like the road
George Weiss, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said SCO's move
"could potentially have some sort of dampening effect" in the Linux
marketplace, but he noted that he hasn't seen any such reaction since the
company's lawsuit against IBM.
Weiss said he has asked SCO to show him some examples of SCO Unix code in
Linux, but the company hasn't done so because of its legal fights. "We
really only have SCO's word for it, which they're attempting to make very
compelling," he said.
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