If youve had a hard time wrapping your mind around The SCO Groups intellectual property campaign, I dont blame you.
Getting a handle on just whats at issue and on what it all means has been particularly tough because the body of SCOs allegations has swollen in number and scope since this all began in January, when SCO moved to enforce licensing on particular Unix software libraries. From there, SCO launched a legal action against IBM, alleging improper contribution of SCO-owned ideas and code to Linux.
Alongside the specific action its taken against IBM in the courts, SCO has worked to make its case in the court of public opinion. In a series of press interviews, analyst calls and warning letters to businesses running Linux, SCO has stated that large chunks of its source code are present in the Linux kernel.
SCOs made some effort to back up these claims by showing selected pieces of source code to reporters and analysts who agree to a strict non-disclosure agreement. Those whove seen the code report that common chunks do appear in the portions of Unix and Linux source as shown them by SCO, but too little information is currently available to judge the issue. (For a take on SCOs code presentation from an open-source developer, check out this article at Linux Journal.)
Last week, SCO expanded its initial demand for $1 billion in damages from IBM to $3 billion; announced that it had revoked IBMs license to distribute its own Unix flavor, AIX; and got a bit more specific about the intellectual property over which its arguing infringement.
SCO now asserts that NUMA (Non Uniform Memory access), RCU (Read Copy Update) and SMP (symmetric multiprocessing), technologies developed by Unix licensee Sequent Computer Systems (now owned by IBM), are derivative works of SCOs intellectual property, and by contributing these technologies to Linux, IBM has violated SCOs property rights. (Robert X. Cringely has written an interesting piece on the issue. Check it out here.)