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SCO Group Hires Boies After All 479

pitr256 writes "So it seems the SCO Group has decided to hire infamous Anti-Microsoft lawyer David Boies after all. This comes upon reversal of the SCO Group statement according to Chief Executive Darl McBride of having not engaged Mr. Boies to take legal action against our fellow Linux vendors. Now, CNet News is reporting that not only is SCO Group investigating the Linux vendors but that it is also going to investigate Windows, Mac OS X, and the BSD derivatives. So if your technology can't win on price and performance, break out the lawyers and sue everyone. Does anyone else see this as the end of SCO (Caldera) like I do? I certainly will never use anything from them ever again."
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SCO Group Hires Boies After All

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  • by gazbo ( 517111 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @02:58PM (#5137000)
    They are, after all, not interested in girls.
  • Possible outcomes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pope nihil ( 85414 )
    Does anyone know if they have a legal leg to stand on? Are they pursuing software patents?
    • I doubt anyone can conjecture in either way at this point. All accounts have been far to vague to really say anything about.
    • Re:Possible outcomes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ninewands ( 105734 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:18PM (#5138309)
      Does anyone know if they have a legal leg to stand on?

      That, my fellow /.'er is the ten megabuck question.

      The way I see it, if Caldera sues over any of their proprietary IP that they contributed to the kernel, etc., the terms of the GPL will govern (I hope ... there are still SOME areas of the kernel that are NOT simon-pure from a GPL perspective).

      Are they pursuing software patents?

      I suspect so. Caldera's active voluntary participation in development of various parts of the system, in its entirety, would probably preclude an attempt at enforcing copyrights that have become "tainted by the GPL." Here again, any IP infringement that was a direct result of Caldera's participation would carry an implied license under whatever license covered the particular system component that contained the IP.

      Now, all bets, above, are off if they are going to seek enforcement of IP governing a part of the system in which Caldera did not participate. If the contested IP is merely copyrighted by Caldera and the developers can show that they did a true "clean room" reverse-engineering job, then Caldera will get nothing but legal bills and a LOT of bad press in the community. However, if the "independently-developed" infringing IP is covered by a PATENT, there is NO protection for the developers unless they can prove Caldera/SCO contributed that IP to the project.

      Either way, I don't see how Caldera can POSSIBLY gain from this exercise. Many members of the OSS community are also in "buying official" positions out in the "meat world." Anyone want to let them know that if they pee in our Post Toasties(TM), we might just be inclined to return the favor by buying our respective companies' server software, etc, from their competition?
    • Re:Possible outcomes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mikehoskins ( 177074 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:01PM (#5138609)
      They're hosed. I personally saw Caldera/SCO as a bridge from Linux to Unix and saw them as a catalyst for change over to Linux from Unix, DOS, and oddly, CP/M.

      I personally won't buy a thing from them, again. I'm done with them. This is wrong.

      This coming from a company that not only contributed to the Linux kernel, but the same company that OPEN SOURCED SCO!!! Where's the lawsuit against them?

      Fortunately, this will bankrupt them, soon. I just hope it doesn't end up killing off Linux in its wake.

      How can they sit on their "moral high horse" and actually have been a vendor of Linux as an OPEN SOURCE PRODUCT?!?!?!? It's pure hypocrisy, IMHO.

      I think there should be a counter-suit in the form of a class-action suit from the other vendors, plus a FUD campaign against them for this.

      I hope this doesn't do more for Microsoft against The Competition(tm) of Linux and Unix than M$ could ever do. What an opportunity for M$ to sieze upon!

      They're nuts, this late in the game. What, no finding of fact or cease-and-desist order?!?!? I hope their lawyer continues to be the loser in all of this....

      To me, this is an outrage!
      </really think>
  • Well, good (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:00PM (#5137022)
    Does anyone else see this as the end of SCO (Caldera) like I do? I certainly will never use anything from them ever again.

    I'm sure they are all broken up over the fact that you won't be installing any more warez copies of SCO anymore.

  • The Old Days (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yamcha666 ( 519244 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:00PM (#5137023)

    Doesn't this entire SCO suing [insert vendor name here] for using the UNIX IP remind anyone of the days when AT&T was getting in Berkley's face over using the UNIX IP - then Berkley rewrote the entire BSD so there was no AT&T UNIX code in there?

    I don't know about Windows or MacOS, but I don't believe Linux or Open/Free/NetBSD use any copywritten UNIX IP code in their kernels. Do they?

    • Re:The Old Days (Score:5, Insightful)

      by M.C. Hampster ( 541262 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:03PM (#5137047) Journal
      I don't know about Windows or MacOS, but I don't believe Linux or Open/Free/NetBSD use any copywritten UNIX IP code in their kernels. Do they?

      IANAL, but I believe the issue is with software patents, not copywrites. If they have software patents over processes that are used in other OS, it doesn't matter if the exact code was used, just the process that is patented.

      • So what do these patents cover? Neither this CNet story, nor any linked off of it gave any indications to SCO's actual claims of what IP of theirs is being infringed upon.

      • Re:The Old Days (Score:4, Insightful)

        by EricWright ( 16803 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:17PM (#5137189) Journal
        The problem is that no one seems to know, or at least isn't saying, exactly what routines/IP/patents are being investigated. Remember, patents only last for 17 years from issuance of patent, or 20 years from application for patent, whichever expires first. Anything patented pre-1986 (or applied for before 1983) will have fallen into public domain already.

        I'm not entirely sure what you can do if, after your patent expires, you find out that someone was violating your patent while it was still valid.
        • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:31PM (#5137293) Homepage Journal

          patents only last for 17 years from issuance of patent, or 20 years from application for patent, whichever expires first.

          Actually, it's whichever expires last according to 35 USC 154(c)(1) [].

          But if Rep. Mary Bono has her way, she'll probably introduce a bill like this [] to "harmonize" patent terms with copyright terms.

          • Actually it is strictly 20 years from filing for any patent filed now. A few years ago, Congress changed the terms from 17 years after grant to 20 years after application, but grandfathered the older patents in, so they would not all of a sudden receive less protection (that would be if the patent was granted more than 3 years after its application. Otherwise, people who were expecting a protection of 17 years after the patent was granted would not all of a sudden get 20 years minus the pendancy time, and in a lot of cases, a patents pendancy (time for the application to issue) can be more than 3 years, though the PTO is trying to keep pendancy times lower than that).

            This was done over 3 yrs ago, so for any new patent application, the term of protection is 20 yrs from application.
          • If Lord Kelvin was alive today he might say something like:

            ``There is nothing new to be invented now. All that remains is more and more patent infringement lawsuits.''
      • by Interrobang ( 245315 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:20PM (#5137208) Journal
        ...(IANAPL, and I'm not an expert on US patents) they may be able to get any UNIX-like system on that pesky "prior art" provision, not necessarily because it specifically violates any putative patents by reusing code. After all, as the other poster (and anyone who cares to do a little research) knows, both Linux and BSD originate from independent, non-UNIX codebases. The ideational structure, the "Unix-like-ness," however, that makes these OSes what they are, may be the problem, in fact (actually, de facto AND de jure). And that's a big problem, since it's utterly impossible (?) to get around.
        • by mlyle ( 148697 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:29PM (#5137280)
          You might be able to make some far-fetched trademark argument about Unix look-and-feel, but what a patent covers is a set of succinct (or sometimes not-so-succinct) claims. Ie, "A system, with provision for input and output to a terminal, that ...."

          I'm unsure of what exactly SCO's patents cover, but many of the fundamental characteristics of unix look and feel are more than 20 years old, e.g. the patents would be expired by now.

          We might have to worry about some things, like System V-style shared memory, possibly being infringing. But it's not really possible to get a patent on the concept of a "unix-like" OS.
          • There was one patent on the original AT&T unix, and that was over setuid mechanism, #4,135,240. At that time software patents were explictly not allowed, and therefore the whole patented mechanism is described in mechanical terms. This patent has of course now expired.
    • Re:The Old Days (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kp2sushi ( 638066 )
      There is a fundamental difference between the AT&T days and now. AT&T was concerned over the use of of AT&T code, not AT&T features. The issue back then was copyright, now it is software patents. BSD was able to give AT&T the finger by rewriting the entire code base. Linux may be in trouble because it may violate an SCO patent. Where the kernel does this is anybody's guess; I've never heard of anyone patenting system calls, the TCP/IP stack, the VFS layer, etc. A quick search of the US patent office does not return any SCO patents. If they have a leg to stand on, I do not know. I'd like to see these patents before I believe that SCO can do anything. Oh, and I'd pass the word on never using an SCO (Caldera) product again. They just dug a very deep hole. -Kp2
      • Re:The Old Days (Score:4, Informative)

        by imp ( 7585 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:41PM (#5137954) Homepage

        BSD was able to give AT&T the finger by rewriting the entire code base.

        Note entirely true. 4.3BSD NET2 had some USL code in it. That's what the 1995 lawsuit was about. The various BSD projects replaced their 4.3NET2 based code with 4.4LITE code which was explicitly covered by the AT&T/UCB agreements. Part of that agreement was that a certain number of files that were alleged to contain USL code were explicitly released under the BSD license.

        Chances are good that someone saw these copyright notices and failed to read them far enough:

        * Copyright (c) 1982, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1993
        * The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
        * (c) UNIX System Laboratories, Inc.
        * All or some portions of this file are derived from material licensed
        * to the University of California by American Telephone and Telegraph
        * Co. or Unix System Laboratories, Inc. and are reproduced herein with
        * the permission of UNIX System Laboratories, Inc.

        Notice the "reproduced herein with the permission of" in there. :-)
    • Re:The Old Days (Score:3, Informative)

      by questionlp ( 58365 )
      FreeBSD includes software compatibility layers (such as Linux, etc.) that also includes some System V shims and code that could be targetted by SCO. I believe the kernel module that could be in question is svr4.ko along with the stuff under /usr/src/sys/svr4.

      NetBSD and OpenBSD may also have the same code or code derivatives in their base system's source.

      I believe it was 4.4Lite that was the result of the BSD vs. AT&T court case, which in itself was a re-write to be "clean" of any AT&T source code... or at least clean enough for AT&T to allow it's distribution. I could be wrong though...
    • System V init (Score:5, Informative)

      by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:12PM (#5137138)
      SCO owns the IP for System V. Linux uses several concepts from the System V design, not the least of which is the Linux init system which is a direct take off of the System V method.
      • Re:System V init (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kaisyain ( 15013 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:20PM (#5137207)
        Except for those Linux systems which don't use sysvinit, I guess you mean. I think Gentoo, for instance, uses something other than sysvinit. There's no real reason other distributions couldn't as well. sysvinit isn't part of the linux kernel, it is just a piece of software; you can put anything you want in /sbin/init.
      • Re:System V init (Score:4, Informative)

        by b1t r0t ( 216468 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:28PM (#5137264)
        Linux uses several concepts from the System V design, not the least of which is the Linux init system which is a direct take off of the System V method.

        <PEDANTIC>Linux is just the kernel. Linux does not use the System V init; though various distrubtions do.</PEDANTIC> In particular, Slackware does not use the SysV init, though it has a compatibility program available.

        Also, OS X does not use SysV init; it has its own method which I presume was inherited from NeXT, and is much closer to the old Mac OS startup, with the SysV-style start/stop parameter added.

    • Re:The Old Days (Score:4, Interesting)

      by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:18PM (#5137192) Homepage
      Yes it did, but as I understand it the issues was "copyrighted" code (i.e. chunks of code taken verbatim from AT&T). In this case it seems to be about patents. I.e. they don't give a shit about how you implemented something, they're only interested that you *did* implement it (assuming they own the patent).

      My prediction: all the big dogs will cross license with each other (because if you dig deep enough I'm sure SCO/Caldera is infringing on some Apple/MS/IBM/Sun patent). The only thing I worry about is Linux and *BSD since the don't have any IP to hold over SCOs head to force them to cross license (maybe IBM will bitch slap them into not persuing the free unicies)
    • Re:The Old Days (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cfulmer ( 3166 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:33PM (#5137315) Homepage Journal
      So, probably bad form replying twice on the same thread.... oh well...

      The issue is *NOT* Patents. It's all about copyright and licensing. Unix dates back to 1969 (see ), and software patents only go back to 1981.

      So, the question is whether any software written by SCO (or really, anything that SCO now owns the rights to, since it was mostly written by Ma Bell) is ending up in software that somebody else sells. If the answer to that is 'yes', and that somebody else didn't pay SCO for the right to use that software *AND* their use isn't considered 'fair use,' then SCO probably has a cause of action.

      I think this will eventually amount to not much. They're not going to go after redhat or Linus or Stallman or.... They may go after somebody who grabbed SCO source code, recompiled it for Windows and is running their app there without paying SCO for the right to copy the code. Or somebody who did the same thing for Linux.

      IANAL (yet)
      • Re:The Old Days (Score:3, Informative)

        by BitterOak ( 537666 )
        The issue is *NOT* Patents. It's all about copyright and licensing. Unix dates back to 1969 (see ), and software patents only go back to 1981.

        Not true. As was pointed out in a previous post, patents expire 20 years after application or 17 years after issuance of the patent, whichever comes last.

        So you can have applied for a patent way back in 1969, but if you delay issuance of the patent until, say 2000, you can hold the patent until 2017.

        It is not uncommon to apply for a patent, and hold up the issuance by deliberately slowing down the process (lots of legal wrangling, etc.) until your methods become widely adopted, and then suddenly move to get your patent issued. This is called a "submarine patent", because the application is hidden from the general public until issuance, so your methods can become a standard since people don't know they are patented!

        One of the many problems with current U.S. patent law.

        (IANAL, but submarine patents have been discussed extensively on Slashdot before.)

      • by watchful.babbler ( 621535 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:44PM (#5137986) Homepage Journal
        The issue is *NOT* Patents. It's all about copyright and licensing. Unix dates back to 1969 (see ), and software patents only go back to 1981.

        Actually, there are patents open on *nix: the famous example is patent no. 4,135,240, the setuid patent (this link [] may work), filed 1973, granted 1979.

        I don't know if there were any post-assignation grants of ownership to the patent, or if Lucent (nee Bell Labs) still owns it.

        A press release [] from SCO states that Boies, Schiller and Flexner has been retained in an advisory capacity, which isn't unusual when a company is trying to determine an IP strategy. We often forget that lawyers are often used for things other than suing people (such as, uh, determining under what statutes one may sue, who one may sue, contracts to enforce terms over which one may sue ... I'm not helping my case here, am I?). The press release (and this story []) indicates that the UnixWare and OpenServer libraries are affected. Unfortunately, their "Intellectual Property Pedigree Chart []" is one of the least useful displays possible, since it appears simply to be the "History of UNIX" chart with some colored lines added. Hopefully, a full clarification by SCO will be forthcoming.

    • Re:The Old Days (Score:3, Informative)

      by imp ( 7585 )
      USL and UCB have an explicit agreement that allows for certain files to be distributed under the BSD license in 4.4-LITE and 4.4-LITE2. {Open,Net,Free}BSD distribute the code under that license, adhereing to those terms. I strongly believe that there's no violation of USL's other IP at all, unless there are patent issues that are being claimed. I suspect that somebody downloaded the source, freaked out and is trying to rewrite the settlement of the 1995 lawsuit to get more money from their revenue stream. I don't know if the 1995 lawsuit covered patents or not, but most of the core patents for Unix have passed into the public domain through explicit action, or the passage of time.

      I don't know about Windows or MacOS, but I don't believe Linux or Open/Free/NetBSD use any copywritten UNIX IP code in their kernels. Do they?
      4.4 Lite does have about a dozen files that have USL copyright notices on them. These files are explicitly covered by the USL/UCB lawsuit settlement of 1995. I don't know about Linux, but since *BSD is derived from 4.4-LITE, chances are good they all have them. I know for sure that FreeBSD has them.

      My Personal opinion is that this is a tempest in a teapot by someone who doesn't know history or the agreements that they purchased along with the IP from SCO.

  • dyslexic (Score:4, Funny)

    by greechneb ( 574646 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:01PM (#5137025) Journal
    my guess is they reversed the old quote:

    "Instead of if you can't beat them, join them"

    "They view it as if you can't join them, beat them"
  • question (Score:4, Funny)

    by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:01PM (#5137030) Homepage Journal
    I certainly will never use anything from them ever again.

    Does that include Linux?
  • Which Patents? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HaeMaker ( 221642 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:02PM (#5137036) Homepage
    Anyone know which patents these are? SysV has been around a long time, and AT&T sold it a long time ago, the patents may not have a lot of life left in them.
    • Re:Which Patents? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cfulmer ( 3166 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:21PM (#5137209) Homepage Journal
      I don't think it's patents, per se. Software patents just didn't exist in the days that most of what we now consider to be 'Unix' was written.

      It's likely just plain-old-ordinary copyright and licensing issues. It seems that the argument would go that some people are using SCO software outside of the bounds of the license agreement that they originally agreed to.

      I've heard some people assert that this means that SCO is asserting that they own 'ls', for example, and that nobody can use 'ls' without a license from SCO. That's only partially correct -- nobody can use *their version* without permission. But, that doesn't prevent the GNU people from writing 'ls' by themselves in a manner that behaves exactly like the SCO S/W.

      I suspect that what they're really trying to target is people who use certain SCO software outside of SCO unix and aren't paying for the right to use it.

      That being said, though, you gotta worry if a big chunk of SCO's revenue comes from lawsuits and not from new technology. It's 2003, for crying out loud -- how long can you milk 30-year-old technology?
      • Re:Revenue (Score:2, Informative)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 )
        From their site: (SCOx plan) []

        Join the SCOx program now and start taking advantage of the Xtreme Rewards Option:

        1. Join the SCOx partner program.
        2. Become authorized to sell SCOx products and services.
        3. Begin selling SCOx products and services. Reach your revenue objectives.
        4. Sell your SCOx business to SCO.
        5. Have a great time with your money!
        Methinks they've been reading to many slashdot Profit! postings. They callit SCOx. Their SCOx Sux. Just shows that they can't think of anything new to bring to the table.
      • Re:Which Patents? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CrazyDuke ( 529195 )
        " . . . how long can you milk 30-year-old technology?"

        Ask Disney.

        Note to readers: Don't bother trying to show off by informing me of the differences between media and technology.
  • I hear they are ripe for a lawsuit from SCO?

  • by kwoo ( 641864 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:03PM (#5137051) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me that OpenBSD, NetBSD, and FreeBSD are derived from 4.4BSD Lite -- which I believe is covered by the original BSD license. It would seem to me that trying to pursue something like that legally would simply be a great waste of time and money.

    That being said, it does sound a bit like SCO has given up trying to make money the honest way and brought in the land sharks...

    • I believe that is the case, but FreeBSD (and possibly NetBSD and OpenBSD) include a System V compatibility layer that allows programs to use System V calls via shims and a kernel module. That could be the code that SCO is aiming at.
    • That being said, it does sound a bit like SCO has given up trying to make money the honest way and brought in the land sharks...

      What does Chevy Chase have to do with this?

    • which I believe is covered by the original BSD license.

      Good news: The three-clause BSD license [] may include an implicit guarantee of license under applicable patents licenseable by the copyright owner: "Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met" (my emphasis).

    • If these IPs that SCO are talking about are descended from the AT&T copyrights, than all of the BSDs are in the clear, as well as anyone else descending from 44BSD-Lite. This case has already been fought, and won by the Good Guys.

      The only rational explanation for SCO's behavior is the existance of patents heretofore unknown to the public.
  • by fetta ( 141344 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:04PM (#5137062)
    The real danger here, IMO, is the uncertainty. How much are companies going to have to spend to assess their potential liability and prepare a potential defense even if they are never sued? How many companies will go with proprietary solutions because they view them as "safer" from a legal perspective? What projects never get launched because they don't have the resources to even determine their own potential liabilities?
    • by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:07PM (#5137087) Homepage
      Uncertainty my ass. When was the last time Boies actually won a case? He's living proof that high-profile failures will advance your career more than low-profile successes. Short SCO.
    • Perhaps it's their version of an economic stimulus package
    • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:16PM (#5137181)
      The real danger here, IMO, is the uncertainty.

      You have that exactly right. SCO is poisoning the market for Unix derivatives and the only winner here will be Microsoft. I can almost see the ads now, featuring Steve Ballmer pacing around a boardroom table like a caged tiger, grimly intoning, "Who knows how much Linux costs? With Windows XP, you don't have to worry about being sued."

      What SCO is doing is exactly like the guy who shoots his ex-wife because, "If I can't have her, no one can."

      OTOH, I doubt it will actually get out of hand, considering our friend IBM's ability to bury annoying IP pranksters like SCO under a ton of patent infringement suits. Moreover, if my organization used SCO products, I would take this as a dire warning to find other, more scrupulous vendors to deal with.
    • This is true no matter what software or hardware you use.

      Patents can strike proprietary solutions just as easily as open source solutions. The difference is that with the open source solution you can say, "oh my, you're right... we infringe on that very patent!" and hire someone to replace the offending code. With a proprietary solution you may not even be able to get your vendor to confirm that the software does or does not infringe without taking them to court!
  • Astalavista SCO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:05PM (#5137070)
    As I stated in a post from the earlier article, this action is a serious threat to SCO's future and I am not certain that SCO has fully examined the fallout that this announcement will cause, regardless of the final outcome.

    The very fact that SCO flat out lied, yes lied, in last week's announcement will seriously impact the level of trust that any vendor or customer might have had in SCO.

    The CNet article did not discuss the audience's reaction to this announcement but, I doubt very much that it was well received. Would anyone that witnessed the announcement and the audience's reaction care to report on it?
  • Does he ever win? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nearlygod ( 641860 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:06PM (#5137080) Homepage
    So he defended Napster... That ended well. He fought Microsoft... Does that count as a win? He worked on Al Gores case in the Florida voting fiasco... Good job on that, too.
  • If they will go after the small companies to bankroll enough to go after the larger companies, or go after the large ones first in an effort to scare the smaller ones to cave in.
  • by wayne ( 1579 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:09PM (#5137107) Homepage Journal
    The GPL requires people/companies that distrubute software under the GPL and hold patents for that software to grant royalty free use of those patents for everyone. Since SCO distributes a version of Linux, all code their distribution must be free of any problems with their patents.
    • I was going to mention this. I wonder why they haven't figured this out already? Caldera's "OpenLinux" was GPL software.

      Another thing that got me was the article's mention of "older versions of Windows" having BSD code. If I am not mistake, isn't the current NT/XP software still running off of some BSD-based network code?
    • Caldera sues itself over code contained in OpenLinux and UnitedLinux distributions!

      David Boies of course loses the case.

      we're still not sure WHAT that means though... film at 11

  • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:09PM (#5137108) Homepage Journal
    ...and hope you can salvage a few dollars for your shareholders after the Chapter 7 filing.

    You could call it "Plan Be."

    Didn't Caldera already sue Microsoft and lose?
    • Didn't Caldera already sue Microsoft and lose?

      Er... half-right. Caldera sued MS and won: back in the days when you had a choice of which DOS to run Windows under, Microsoft put a lot of effort into making Windows MS-DOS specific, in order to wipe out the competition. Since doing that is illegal, Caldera got a big pile of MS cash in an out-of-court settlement.

      Having said that, Caldera split in two - one half was 'UNIX' things (their Linux distro, the bits of SCO, etc) and the other was DOS/embedded, so it seems the part doing the suing this time is not the half that beat MS previously... (Which, incidentally, seems to have disappeared; DR DOS has been sold to these guys [].

  • Does anyone else see this as the end of SCO (Caldera) like I do? I certainly will never use anything from them ever again.

    Have you ever considered legally licensing SCO's IP if you are going to use it? That's what the issue is all about.

    Why am I not hearing outrage from the crowds because Microsoft still dares license their software? Shouldn't I be able to copy Windows at will? Of course not.

    So let's adhere to SCO's licensing agreements and everything will be fine. Otherwise if you steal from SCO, I don't feel any more sorry for you then if you have stole from Microsoft.


    • Most people don't like the idea of what you are saying. Someone made something to make money!!!OMG!

      Just because you have been getting it for free does not make it yours to take. Apply that to mp3, software, or patents.

      God forbid your boss walk up to you and say "you know I should not pay you for your work."

      Think about all the overtime you work, do you think you should be paid for it? There ya go, someone is stealing from you and you let it happen does that make it right? Should you try to find a way to get your due money? Is that wrong?

      Sorry, I don't have a problem with them doing this.

    • Um hello? This shouldn't have been patentable in the first place. Software code should NOT be patentable. This is just another sign that the US patent system needs a MAJOR overhaul and that we need to get the laws changed so that software (which is technically a mathematical process) can no longer be patentable.

      Until that happens, lawsuits like this will continue to stifle innovation, prevent competition and hurt the economy as a result.

      What we need is a broad coalition of software developers (big names and small) to start lobbying congress to deal with this longstanding problem before it gets any worse.
    • by Wateshay ( 122749 ) <bill,nagel&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:24PM (#5137232) Homepage Journal
      I think the issue is that SCO is taking very old patents (let's face it, there's not much new in Unix/Linux) that have remained unenforced for a very long time, and now that they are in financial trouble they're trying to create a cash cow at the expense of the entire rest of the industry. Is it really fair for a company that has created nothing (remember, they bought the IP) to set the entire computer industry back 5-10 years in order to save themselves from their own bad business decisions. It may be legal, but it sure as hell isn't ethical.

      (Let's also remember that they seem to be wanting to charge a rediculously high fee for these patents. A per processor cost of > $100 is hardly reasonable.)
    • Otherwise if you steal from SCO, I don't feel any more sorry for you then if you have stole from Microsoft.

      Actually, it even funnier. SCO is stealing from all the Linux contributors by distributing copyrighted software (Linux) while breaking the license (GPL, article 7).
    • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:32PM (#5137297) Homepage
      That's not really the issue... the issue is that they are (allegedly) engaging in the scummy business of submarine patents.

      Get a patent on a business model/method... don't act on that patent until it's widely used in the industry. Then have your lawyers pop out and sue everyone.

      Exactly what choice is provided here? Most vendors wouldn't have even known about the patent, since people in the industry would assume that it's common practice and unpatented (for a variety of reasons).

      At that point you can either cease use of the patented technology (which may still leave you open to licensing fees for prior sales, depending on how a judge rules - you're not supposed to be liable, but lawyers can make IP law dance a jig), pay the extortion money, or attempt to get the patent invalidated. Good luck on the latter - if they're doing it toward the end of the patent life then you'll have a hard time getting facts for prior work 15 years ago, and you'll probably wind up paying more in lawyer fees than you would have paid in extortion.

      And yes, I do mean extortion. Submarine patents are nothing but that. It's one thing to raise a patent claim when you didn't know it was being violated. It's another thing to intentionally lie low until it's too late. IP law rarely acknowledges the difference with regards to this though.

      Of course, there is one other option, and probably one that we'll see used if SCO is stupid enough to press their case. If someone tries to blackmail you, there's always the possibility of blackmailing them back. IBM has enough software patents to make SCO (or anyone else) wonder if they actually invented anything themselves.
  • By doing so you support what you criticize: So if your technology can't win on price and performance, break out the lawyers and sue everyone.

    If you are really against this then continue using what's best suited for your needs.

    Cheers everyone.
  • by Steve Cox ( 207680 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:15PM (#5137162)
    Lets look at this guys track record:

    Defending Napster: Failure
    Representing Al-Gore: Failure
    Anti-trust Against Microsoft: Failure

    I'm shaking in my boots :)

    • Actually he won the case against microsoft, however Bush ordered a surrender in the microsoft case after it had already been won. It was also reported at this time that Microsofts donations to the Republican party "made enron look like amateurs". (Microsofts decision to support bush wasn't political they also threw a lot of money at the democrats too).
  • Face it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceswiedler ( 165311 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:16PM (#5137172)
    It's entirely possible that SCO's claims are accurate. If they inherited valid software patents on some of the basic designs of UNIX, then they have a government-granted right to sue any company which uses those designs.

    We all view UNIX as being freely copyable in its design, because traditionally it has been. Linux shares no code with the original UNIX, but it does share both design and interfaces such as syscalls. This is not a copyright issue, it is a patent issue. If the patents are valid, then it's possible Linux is infringing by its very existence. The BSDs are in a different camp, because of their heritage and the previous agreements between Berkely and AT&T, but possibly they're infringing as well.

    Of course, it's also possible that there is no actual patent infringement going on. But that depends on what AT&T decided to do back in the day regarding patenting UNIX. I know that IBM's standard policy is to patent *everything*.

    (cue Gary Oldman at the end of The Professional: "EVERYTHING!" )
    • Re:Face it (Score:3, Informative)

      by Eric Smith ( 4379 )
      If they inherited valid software patents on some of the basic designs of UNIX,
      They inherited expired patents on some of the basic designs of Unix. Completely useless for litigation.

      Apparently the problem is the copyright on some libraries used for the SCO Xenix/Unix emulation. Which are no longer present in most Linux distributions.

      These libraries might have been used in Windows NT. But even if they were, MS had probably had the right to do so, since they owned Xenix and licensed it to SCO.

      I suspect that the real agenda here is to manipulate their stock price by convincing investors that they're going to get a bunch of licensing revenue. The fact that the licensing revenue will never actually be recognized is irrelevant to such a plan.

  • I certainly will never use anything from them ever again.

    If they are right and they win, then you are already using their stuff. :)
  • BSD's safe (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    All the BSD's based upon 4.4BSD-Lite (which is all of them) are safe from any action by SCO....UCB was sued by AT&T in the mid '90s....the lawyers went through the code and the BSD's have the legal documents to demonstrate that they dont have any SCO code. Windows and Linux and others may have some issues here.
  • ...and damn you SCO, and your smelly IP lawyers, for soiling that fond memory.

    • At the risk of sounding AOL, "Me too!"

      I had a 10MHz AST 286 (with a whopping 8MB RAM) running Xenix SysV/286 (2.3.2). Served a small workgroup of about 8 people.

      Later, we used ODT 2.0, ODT 3.0 and OSR5. The ODT2 system ran for 7 years straight with a single reboot (hardware upgrade -- added a second internal SCSI drive).

      So much for those memories... Of course, I think that the SCO that we knew died when it was bought by Caldera.
  • by Googol ( 63685 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:21PM (#5137212)

    Think of the internet as a big dump filled with potential, er, recycling materials. A lot of it is trash but there is some good stuff there. Anyone can go out and pick up stuff and build stuff with it. Only, digital copying and transmission technology means that if someone happens to throw away a split-level ranch house we can all live in nice houses.

    So how do you keep this from happening if you are in the business of selling houses? (1) control the real estate market [hardware] so you can have a nice house but no place to put it; (2) cut off access to the dump; (3) make recycling illegal; (4) claim you own the stuff in the dump.

    So SCO wants #4 today. What else is new. They'll all be tried. They're all a problem.

    The real problem is not today's battle on thus-and-such a front. It's that there are a *lot* of people out there who have it out for recycling of *anything* that people can live in.

  • As everyone else is saying, look at his track record. His cases seem to be presented with questionable tactics, not fully exploring the ramifications of what he is arguing for, and attacking the case on one tiny point, missing a bigger picture. I remember reading a lot about his work for Gore, that he was so focused on certain demands in the case that he missed arguing for other things he could have won. For the Microsoft case, he was obsessed with the browser issue, missing many points related to Microsoft's behaviour in the bigger picture.

    For such a hugely hyped lawyer, he manages to make swiss cheese of the most open-and-shut cases. Now if they had hired Johnny Cochran, I'd be concerned...
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:26PM (#5137249) Homepage Journal
    Obviously SCO, but who uses that? More to the point, I think it would be in our best interests to avoid using (and especially paying for) any products from their parent companies and the parent's subsidiaries. In other words, we should avoid the whole corporate tree.

    Caldera is the owner, right? And what about it's subsidiaries? Don't they have an embedded Linux biz, Lineo or something?

    What these guys are doing is way worse then Amazon, and we (well, some people, not me personally) are boycotting them.
  • "This comes upon reversal of the SCO Group statement according to Chief Executive Darl McBride of having not engaged Mr. Boies to take legal action against our fellow Linux vendors. Now, CNet News is reporting that not only is SCO Group investigating the Linux vendors. How do you spell: "Lying scak of shit?" D A R L Mc B R I D E
  • Buy them. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dmw ( 18915 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:28PM (#5137260)
    According to Yahoo Finance, SCOX has a market cap of 16.4M. Can't the FSF try to buy them and then release the IP to the community?

    It seems to me that this is an opportunity for us open-source geeks to put our money where our mouths are.
    • Re:Buy them. (Score:3, Informative)

      by schnell ( 163007 )

      According to Yahoo Finance, SCOX has a market cap of 16.4M. Can't the FSF try to buy them and then release the IP to the community?

      Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily work that way. Market capitalization (cap) is what it would cost at present values to purchase every share of the company that is publicly traded. In a perfect world, you would just buy up all those shares at that price. You then own the company, call for a new election of board members, vote your shares (your vote's weight = your percentage of ownership) for new board members who then order the CEO to change what he's doing or get fired.

      However, there are a couple of snags to that plan. One is that once people know that you're trying to buy up the whole thing, they start demanding more money for their shares because they know you want them badly. That's why takeover attempts are always launched quoting a price higher than current market value.

      More important is that the # of shares on publicly traded markets doesn't necessarily equal the number of shares in the company. A company can make some small minority of the company's total shares (say, 25% publicly traded) in their IPO and keep the rest in the hands of private investors (or owned by the company itself). So if this is the case, you can buy up every public share of the company, but you still don't control it. You'd have to examine the company's SEC filings to get the answer, but I'm guessing only a minority of SCO's shares are public.

      It seems to me that this is an opportunity for us open-source geeks to put our money where our mouths are.

      I think we open-source geeks are, in general, badly in need of a few "gut-checks" to see if we are willing to put our money where our Slashdot flames are. ;-) Sadly, this doesn't appear to be a good opportunity.

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:29PM (#5137278) Journal
    According to the article [] I have read, SCO is only concerned about two libraries that they wrote that are not Free software. These libraries are ABI's used in UnixWare and OpenServer. The libraries are not integral to Linux or the X window system.

    SCO is not going after every Linux vendor, only those distributing the two libraries without SCO's permission.

    To me, this is all just FUD, and is being blown WAY out of proportion.

  • Anybody else in room hearing Bill Gates laughing?

    Bill: Steve, Guess what?
    Steve: What Bill...
    Bill: Guess who SCO is suing now?
    Steve: Let me guess... Us?
    Bill: Nope!
    Steve: Wow, somebody not suing us, that's odd..
    Bill: Yeah, I guess their going to sue a whole bunch of linux companies
    Steve: Hmmm, that seems odd... On what pretense?
    Bill: I guess their contending that everybody stole their IP...
    Steve: HAHAHA, this'll be good... for profits...
  • by elbuddha ( 148737 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:48PM (#5137433)

    From the CNET story:
    • "We've been looking at this for months. Every time we turn over a stone, there's something there," McBride said. "If you pull down (Mac) OS X you'll see a lot of copyright postings that point back to Unix Systems Laboratories, which is what we hold."

    From Twenty Years of Berkeley Unix [] by Marshall Kirk McKusick:
    • The University's suit claimed that USL had failed in their obligation to provide due credit to the University for the use of BSD code in System V as required by the license that they had signed with the University. If the claim were found to be valid, the University asked that USL be forced to reprint all their documentation with the appropriate due credit added, to notify all their licensees of their oversight, and to run full-page advertisements in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine notifying the business world of their inadvertent oversight.
      The result was that three files were removed from the 18,000 that made up [BSD 4.4] Networking Release 2, and a number of minor changes were made to other files. In addition, the University agreed to add USL copyrights to about 70 files, although those files continued to be freely redistributed.
      The lawsuit settlement also stipulated that USL would not sue any organization using 4.4BSD-Lite as the base for their system.
    So, in other words, Mr. McBride - PPPPHHHTTTT!!

    Oh, and might want to make sure you are providing due credit to the University of California at Berkeley before you cast the first stone, eh?
  • Infamous? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Paul Johnson ( 33553 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:30PM (#5137855) Homepage
    infamous Anti-Microsoft lawyer David Boies

    Famous perhaps, but why "infamous"?

    Is it because he is not on Our Side this time?


  • The real story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Error27 ( 100234 ) <.error27. .at.> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:26PM (#5138373) Homepage Journal
    The real story is that Maureen O'Gara and LinuxGram deliberately spread the false rumour about SCO. The only reason I can think of is that they must dislike SCO.

    If you read O'Gara's article carefully she says that she presumed that SCO was going to go after Linux users. She only talked to one person at SCO who thought the idea was retarded. He said going after Linux users would be "suicide." After that most people would probably decide they had presumed incorrectly but O'Gara likes to go with the most damaging thing she can presume even if it's wrong.

    The day after the article SCO said: "SCO has no desire to take legal action against fellow Linux vendors."

    But the rumour had already spread. Stupid reporters took O'Gara's speculations and said, "It was reported that SCO was planning to sue Linux users."

    Here is a factual article: tm []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:29PM (#5138399)
    I'm posting as anonCow for obvious reasons:

    I knew this guy when he "worked" for Franklin Covey (see bio here: ). He ran the e-Planning group, trying develop things from online planners to FC's desktop planning software.

    I should say, "ran into the ground." Everything he did sounded nice on the long project plans that he and other around him made, and were full of COMPLETE FREAKING BULLSHIT, every time.

    Darl McBride is a total symbol of all that is wrong with the tech world, especially during the dot-bomb era.

    He knows dick-all, but sounds real good and smooth to other suits.

    He was really hot on WAP (if that tells you anything!) and thought that people would pay to be able to check (FC's online planner - seemingly now not working) via their cell phones.


    By the way, he also bought that technology (for the online planner) from two guys who were basically Cold Fusion script kiddies for $10,000,000 ... I spent some time talking to the guys who had to rewrite all the crappy code (non-componentized, no db abstraction, etc. etc. non-optimized). Those script kiddies must have laughed all the way to the bank.

    I mean, can you believe it - buying an online planner! A good coder can whip up a basic one in a week solo!

    Then they spent $250,000 - a cool quarter of a mill US - turning it into a Flash planner ... so it would feel like a desktop app on the web.

    Maybe not such a stupid idea, but they executed it as a total one-off, again with no componentization, etc., so that their strategy (to customize this calendar for big corporate clients) was totally impossible.

    Then his big plan was an app that aggregates all your data (mail, web, documents, contacts, etc.) into one big portal-on-the-desktop application. I forget the name of the company that he did this with, but again it was a total freaking failure.

    FC stock, which had been trading at about $30 in the '98, '99 years, dropped like a stone ... not just because of Darl, of course, but almost certain contributed to by his total freaking cluelessness about anything technical that could actually make (as opposed to burn) money.

    The one group of people that did get rich while Darl was at FC was the lawyers ... they had an insane contract with some top firm, running at something like $15,000 monthly retainer.

    For what is anyone's guess.

    But this really makes sense when I see he's now running SCO. Those dolts are so far gone their exit strategy is to sue the whole world. Maybe they invented the if statement or something, too.

    Rest assured: with Darl McBride at the head of SCO they won't make anything innovative, new, good, or money-making.

    But I supposed the lawyers are still going to be fine.

    Unbelievable ... I never expected him to turn up there.

  • by DysonSphere ( 307033 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:01PM (#5138607)
    "Boies is noted in the computing industry for working on the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft and for defending music-sharing site Napster. He also represented Al Gore in the Florida vote-counting controversy during the 2000 presidential elections. "

    With a track record like that, we don't have a thing to worry about...

Loose bits sink chips.