LONDON—The SCO Group Inc. has extended its controversial intellectual property license into Europe, with other countries worldwide to follow. The move into Europe is the latest step in a long-running saga that has angered the open-source community.
Last year, the company announced it would seek to enforce licensing of what it claimed was intellectual property that had been used without its permission in the Linux 2.4 and 2.5 kernels, as well as in IBMs AIX Unix variant. Following on from this, it announced it would offer Linux customers a licensing deal that indemnifies them against the use of its code, in the form of the SCO Intellectual Property License. The license is priced at $699 per server processor and $199 per desktop processor.
“While we have identified several problem areas at issue within Linux, we also want to be fair to customers and allow them to continue using Linux and our intellectual property unencumbered,” said Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager of SCOsource, the intellectual property licensing and protection division of SCO.
However, it appears that SCO has yet to take an active role in promoting its IP license in Europe, with no major Linux users reporting any direct contact from the company. This contrasts with its approach in the United States, where the company has sent legal letters to several Fortune 1000 companies charging that their use of Linux in a commercial setting violates SCO copyrights and demanding that they comply with the terms of the SCO IP License.
Officials at Red Hat Inc. and SuSE Linux declined to comment on the extension of the IP license into Europe, although a spokesman for Red Hat Europe claimed, “We see that our customers are happy and supportive of Red Hats products and services and are not, at least publicly, being dissuaded from using Linux, whether in North America or Europe.”
The extension of SCOs efforts to defend what it claims is its legitimate intellectual property rights into Europe could seriously affect the acceptance of open source software on the continent. European governmental bodies, including the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, have begun to promote open source software. In an action plan set out in 2000, the commission called on member states to “promote the use of open source software in the public sector and e-government best practice through exchange of experiences across the Union.”
And individual countries have also begun to adopt Linux, with the city of Munich installing the software on over 14,000 local government PCs and the governments of Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands all either considering or adopting Linux-based solutions.