SCO Stands Defiant, German Court Grants Preliminary Injunction
May 30, 2003, 20:30 (35 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols)
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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
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
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
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
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.