IBM Countersues SCO

UPDATE: Big Blue fires back in the battle over Unix copyrights, claiming SCO is violating the GPL and infringing on IBM's own patents.

In the latest move of an endgame over Linux, IBM Corp. has filed countersuit against The SCO Group Inc. in the companies ongoing legal battle over Unix copyrights.

IBM is making three primary claims in the suit, filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. IBM claims that SCO is violating the GNU General Public License (GPL); that SCO improperly revoked IBMs AIX license, since it needed Novells permission to do so; and that SCO is infringing on IBM patents with four of its products.

According to a copy of the lawsuit viewed by Microsoft Watch, "SCO has misused, and is misusing, its purported rights to the Unix operating system ... to threaten destruction of the competing operating systems known as AIX and Linux, and to extract windfall profits for its unjust enrichment."

IBM is claiming breach of contract, violation of the Lanham Act, unfair competition, "interference with prospective economic relations," and unfair and deceptive trade practices.

IBM claims SCO has violated IBMs patents with UnixWare (SCOs Unix for Intel- and AMD-based systems); its Open Server operating sytems; SCO Manager (a remote systems-management solution for Linux and SCO Unix systems); and Reliant HA (server-clustering software). It claims that these products violate IBMs patents covering data compression, navigation of graphical menus, a "self-verifying receipt and acceptance system for electronically delivered data objects" and monitoring and recovery features in distributed/clustered systems.

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said he doesnt know the dollar amount of damages IBM is seeking. The Utah court is refusing to fax the countersuit to anyone, Stowell said, and so SCO had yet to see a full copy. He said he believed the court would make the suit available online on Friday.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM declined to comment.


"It was ridiculously arrogant to think that SCO was going to get away with their claims without Armonk putting up a fight," said one independent consultant, who requested anonymity.

"IBM has more patents registered than any other company in America; they have a legitimate right to go after SCO if their patents have been violated. It couldnt happen to a nicer bunch of people."

The consultant also noted that if the IBM case goes to trial, it will be the first time the GPL will be tested in court.

In March, SCO, of Lindon, Utah, filed an intellectual-property suit for more than $1 billion against IBM, alleging that IBM made "concentrated efforts to improperly destroy the economic value of Unix, particularly Unix on Intel, to benefit IBMs new Linux services business."

In June, SCO upped the amount of damages it is specifying to $3 billion. That same month, SCO terminated Big Blues right to use or distribute its Unix-based AIX operating system.

This week, Red Hat kicked off the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco by filing a pre-emptive suit against SCO, seeking judgment on whether it is in violation of SCOs patents.

Also at LinuxWorld, tool vendor Aduva Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., unveiled a new feature in its OnStage product that will check for code that might possibly be in violation of SCOs patents. The tool will find the code, identify it, and then automate the replacement of the code with Red Hat Linux or an appropriate fix.

Editors note: This story has been updated to include contents of the IBM suit.