SCO Mines Licensing Revenue

SCOsource initiative is aimed at protecting intellectual property.

The SCO Group is expecting to earn at least $10 million in revenue in the current financial quarter from its newly created SCOsource licensing initiative, designed to derive new licensing programs and products from its intellectual property.

While the company expects much of this revenue to be raised amicably, it is willing to litigate to enforce its intellectual property and other rights.

In an interview with eWeek late last month, SCO CEO Darl McBride said the Lindon, Utah, company has received positive response to SCOsource, including calls from companies that are concerned they could be infringing on its intellectual property.

"We have very positive programs for working through these issues as they arise," McBride said. "Some 95 percent of the companies we are in discussions with are cooperating well, but there are a handful of cases where the discussions are not as amicable."

McBride declined to specify which companies were being uncooperative.

The unlicensed use of SCOs Unix shared libraries is just the "tip of the [intellectual property] iceberg," said McBride, with the company holding a range of copyright, trade secret, patent, source code and licensing properties.

SCO evolved out of Caldera International Inc., which acquired server software assets of The Santa Cruz Operation in 2001.

"Because this range of IP-related issues is so broad-based and there is such a wide range of players involved, were just making sure we move forward very sure-footedly," McBride said.

The latest SCO licensing moves follow news in January that the company was planning to make some users pay for some Unix software they were running, unlicensed, on Linux. The first deliverable from SCOsource was the licensing of SCOs Unix shared libraries under a new product license called SCO System V for Linux. That product lets Linux customers run Unix applications, originally written for SCO OpenServer and SCO UnixWare, under Linux in an Intel Corp. environment.

"There has never been a mechanism in place to license the libraries to individuals and companies until now," McBride said. "In fact, the SCO OpenServer and UnixWare licenses expressly said that the libraries could not be used outside of those two operating systems."

The company in January hired high-profile attorney David Boies and his law firm to investigate whether Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and versions of BSD infringed on the Unix intellectual property it owned.

eWeek has also learned that a market research company is conducting a survey among open-source and Linux shops to gauge how they would feel and react if SCO pursues legal action against those companies it believes are violating its intellectual property and technology rights. The president of an exclusively Linux/open-source shop told eWeek last week that he had recently participated in a 20-minute phone survey that began with a statement to the effect that a company named SCO was pursuing legal remedy to protect its intellectual property. McBride said SCO had not commissioned that research.

Spokeswomen for Linux distributor Red Hat Inc. and IBM told eWeek they have not been contacted by SCO about any violations of its intellectual property or other rights. Wim Coekaerts, principal member of Oracle Corp.s technical staff and its Linux specialist, told eWeek that he was not aware of any specific issues regarding Oracles Linux business. Coekaerts, in Redwood Shores, Calif., also said he has not heard of any issues specific to Red Hat, SuSE Linux AG or UnitedLinux LLC. A Microsoft Corp. spokesman declined immediate comment.