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SCO Stands Defiant, German Court Grants Preliminary Injunction

May 30, 2003, 20:30 (35 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols)

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Linux Today Correspondent

SCO is in the right is the message that Darl McBride, SCO CEO, and Chris Sontag, senior VP of SCOsource, tried to deliver in their press conference earlier today. But, at the same time, a German court in Bremen granted an injunction to Univention GmbH, a German Linux integrator, against SCO Group GmbH, SCO's German division. The injunction prevents SCO from saying that Linux contains illegally obtained SCO intellectual property, aka Unix source code. If SCO continues to hold this position, they would have to pay a fine of 250,000 Euros.

Univention's position, according to Peter H. Ganten, managing director of Univention, is that "SCO's unproven patent statements about Linux are disconcerting the public and harming Linux's image. So, we had to resist." In short, as a company based on Linux, Univention had to stop SCO from damaging their business.

SCO vs. Novell, Round 2

Meanwhile, in Utah, McBride said that was a great deal of confusion over SCO enforcement actions and that the IBM suit is based on contract and the licensing and sub-licensing issues. SCO has not made, he emphasized, any "enforcement actions based on copyrights and patents."

This point was also made in SCO's press release on Novell's recent actions, "Copyrights and patents are protection against strangers. Contracts are what you use against parties you have relationships with."

That said, McBride insisted that Novell's claims about owning Unix's copyrights were wrong and that further action on these issues would be turned over to SCO's attorneys. McBride, a former Novell executive, mentioned that he thought "Novell was making as a desperate act to curry favor with the Linux community."

In SCO's press release on Novell's recent actions, SCO said, "Copyrights and patents are protection against strangers. Contracts are what you use against parties you have relationships with."

In the future, however, McBride continues, that since SCO owns all Unix licensing and sub-licensing agreements, including derivate rights, "We do not rule out taking actions based on copyrights."

McBride also said that, contrary to Novell's claims, there had been no talks about buying Unix intellectual property from Novell because SCO already owned it. SCO did however, asked for clarification on some of the contract language.

Since then, according to McBride, Novell's vice-chairman, office of the CEO, Chris Stone, missed a meeting with SCO on May 27th. McBride then when on to say that not only was the Novell May 28th statement a surprise, he believes it was deliberately timed to interfere with SCO's earning call.

The Code of the Matter

Moving along, McBride said that three groups outside the company had looked at the Unix and Linux source code and agreed that there were substantial, hundreds of lines, of code from Unix in Linux. He then went on to say that this code will be made available under non-disclosure agreements (NDA)s to analysts, developers, and journalists. He then didn't directly reply to the question that given SCO's history of mixing Unix into Linux that any presence of Unix code in Linux might have come from SCO itself, thus releasing it under the GPL.

Sontag also said that, while they haven't done an exhaustive search of all variations of the Linux code base, no one is using a legal copy of Linux. In particular, he continued all major versions of Linux since 2.4 had SCO System V Unix code. Older versions would be checked too, though, and that SCO "hoped to get our arms around all the older Linuxes." Neither Sontag nor McBride commented on what this meant for continuing support for SCO's own Linux customers.

McBride concluded by saying that Linux's leaders "know that SCO has a strong position" and that the hundreds of line of Unix code in Linux would be revealed during "June's show and tell time."

Stacy Quandt, Giga's Linux industry analyst, said that "Customer have two choices. They can believe SCO or continue business as usual. Organizations should review all the information available, decide if there's any risk and then make the appropriate decision." As time has gone on, though, SCO's claims have grown broader and this week alone two companies, Novell and Univision have challenged SCO's claims.

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