SCO Returns IBM Fire over Unix Rights

Calls IBM's countersuit an attempt to distract attention from its 'flawed Linux business model.'

The SCO Group Inc. fired back at IBM Corp. Thursday, hours after the Armonk, N.Y., tech giant countersued SCO over alleged intellectual-property violations around Unix/Linux.

IBM filed the countersuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah late Wednesday. IBM is claiming that SCO is in violation of 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. The suit does not specify the amount of damages IBM is seeking.

In a company statement, SCO labeled IBMs counterclaim filing "an effort to distract attention from its flawed Linux business model." The statement continues, "If IBM were serious about addressing the real problems with Linux, it would offer full customer indemnification and move away from the GPL (GNU General Public License) license."

SCO claimed that IBM is making many of "the same unsubstantiated allegations" that Red Hat Inc. employed in its own pre-emptive suit, which it launched against SCO earlier this week.

SCO focused heavily on the GPL and software indemnification in its statement, released to the press and public on Thursday. SCO characterized IBM and the Free Software Foundation as strange bedfellows supporting the GPL.

"IBM urges its customers to use non-warranted, unprotected software. This software violates SCOs intellectual property rights in Unix, and fails to give comfort to customers going forward in use of Linux. If IBM wants customers to accept the GPL risk, it should indemnify them against that risk. The continuing refusal to provide customer indemnification is IBMs truest measure of belief in its recently filed claims," the SCO statement continued.


SCO isnt the only company raising the indemnification issue around Linux. At the end of last month at the annual Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer highlighted IBMs failure to indemnify its Linux customers to the same degree it indemnifies users of its proprietary software.

"Can IBM give you a product roadmap for Linux? Can they deliver new features and fixes to Linux? Does it indemnify the intellectual property in Linux? No, no and no," Ballmer told press and analysts in attendance.

In its statement released Thursday, SCO also questioned why IBM has not raised any concerns about possible patent violations involving four SCO products until this week. IBM is claiming in its filing that SCO is violating four IBM patents with its UnixWare, Open Server, clustering and other products.

"SCO reiterates its position that it intends to defend its intellectual property rights. SCO will remain on course to require customers to license infringing Linux implementations as a condition of further use. This is the best and clearest course for customers to minimize Linux problems," SCO concluded in its statement.