Back in the beginning of SCOs all-out assault on Linux and IBM, the Unix company received a much-needed financial boost to its lawsuit plans with two major contracts. These deals with Microsoft and Sun brought SCO $26.5 million. This money, in turn, fueled SCOs lawsuits.
At the time, many critics of SCO wondered what in the world Sun and Microsoft could have been buying from SCO. Most people thought the answer was that they were buying an attack on a rival company, IBM, and a rival operating system, Linux.
Now, as a byproduct of SCO v. Novell—the case over who really owns Unixs IP (intellectual property)—and thanks to Groklaw, we now know what Sun was buying from SCO (PDF download). In part, it does seem to be an attack on Linux. But that wasnt all.
According to the court exhibit, Sun bought a "right to use license" for its commercial Linux end users. In addition, Sun was buying "a UnixWare source code license to developers," and both licenses "contained a covenant not to sue, which provided that the licensee would not be exposed to liability for the use of SCOs intellectual property in Linux."
Nowhere does the exhibit explain in any detail exactly what SCO IP was hidden within Linux. Does that sound to you like the sort of vague patent claims made by Microsoft in regard to its recent patent deals with Novell and with Xandros? It does to me.