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SCO Sues IBM for Sharing Secrets with Unix and Linux 914

bstadil writes "The information is still sparse but the expected lawsuits from SCO over Unix/Linux patent infringements has been filed." SCO is asking for a billion dollars. and Forbes are also covering the story.
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SCO Sues IBM for Sharing Secrets with Unix and Linux

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  • by YOU ARE SO FIRED! ( 635925 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:36AM (#5455979) Journal
    ... Dr. Evil hired as president of SCO.

    First post when posting is disabled?
  • billion dollars? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rppp01 ( 236599 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:36AM (#5455980) Homepage
    Yeah, and I am asking SCO for a unix that actually runs reliably, but it ain't gonna happen, buddy.

    No, really. SCO should worry less about suing over linux and unix and secrets, and more about putting out a product that doesn't suck so badly.
    • Re:billion dollars? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WheelDweller ( 108946 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2003 @02:21AM (#5456731)

      I'd be happy if they'd upgrade *anything* to make it not look like it did in freakin' 1989! They have to face it: Nobody (with a brand name and a company to feed) does Unix like Linux. Even *BSD, a company (depending on which one you're talking about) makes VAST strides over SCO. Sure, SCO's got uptime and a vast application library...but it's a BEAR when it comes back up, and the apps are all vertical and expensive.

      I we are in 2003, and you STILL have to make sure your host hardware is compatible with SCO. How could they let this get so bad? Now they blame everyone else.

      Yet, it's still better at what it does, than Windows: it doesn't stake a claim to your grandchildren's choice of operating system....and your cash...and theirs.

      I started on a "Fortune" brand Unix box, but took up SCO for about a decade...I'm tellin' ya: it sucks. The management team is to blame. They charged for the Development System (cc and friends to you and me) and they even charged to ship their 'skunkware' disk, containing a lot of public domain stuff that worked FAR better than their own stuff.

      I told them that charging $1100 for their source of programs and future was insane. And "They looked at me, uncomprehendingly, like cows at a passing train..."

      Nobody listens when there's still time to dodge the oncoming semi.

    • Re:billion dollars? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @08:48AM (#5457603) Homepage
      This is a phenominally bad move for SCO to make.

      I'm sure a psudeo-capitalist troll will spout off with "they're doing what a good business should, they're doing this for thier stock holders, we should applaud them"

      Really? Destroying the last vestige of goodwill that the company has is a good move? In one fell stroke annihillating any chance that SCO will ever be respected by the Linux community, on the off chance they can successfully sue IBM for some cash?

      My company dropped support for SCO last year. Their hardware support is so horrible just putting a test machine together is more of a pain in the ass than its worth. The number of sales we would theoretically get doesn't justify the development and testing resources necessary. We would sell more copies of an _OS/2_ package than we would SCO (and we dropped OS/2 support around the same time).

      We will NEVER support SCO again after this little move.

      (my company == one of the top 5 software publishers)
  • by ajf442 ( 139842 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:37AM (#5455984)
    When they hired Boies, you knew they meant business. But they are sueing someone with very deep pockets. I wonderhow deep SCO's are?
    • SCO, this is stupid. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by emil ( 695 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @09:41AM (#5457906)
      1. You have just picked a fight with an 800lb gorilla; you are not going to win. IBM will trot out a few thousand patents that you infringe upon, game over.
      2. You want a business plan? Here you go:
        1. RedHat has eaten your lunch, but they are starting to make mistakes. Offer to take over free up2date support. Reimplement up2date using a p2p engine so it doesn't cost you bandwidth. Make sure that you can advertise over this support channel, and make your products an obvious upgrade path out of RedHat.
        2. Put out a stripped-down, free UnitedLinux version that is completely open-source, and maintain a subscription version. Don't mess with the free version (a la RedHat).
        3. Sun has a free UNIX license in perpetuity. Offer the same to HP, in exchange for AdvFS and whatever other technology is good. Implement these components in the commercial server product. All of HP's UNIX products are dying, and they are ripe for the plucking.
        4. If you somehow obtain AdvFS, you can take Oracle away from RedHat. You should start working on making your platform a preferred place for RAC right away. This goal is potentially worth giving AdvFS away under GPL.
        5. Stop suing IBM and start making sure that you will have a place on the new Power blade servers they are planning to produce. Get cozier with the Power crowd; you bring a lot to the table.
  • by mosch ( 204 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:38AM (#5456003) Homepage
    During the previous article I made a call for peace. I suggested that it was too early to condemn SCO for they had done nothing vicious, and we had no way to tell precisely what was planned.

    Clearly I was a fucking retard. They're fucking evil. Ban them. Send them emails which politely, yet firmly state that they smell like a llama's anus. Sick the Channel 7 ProblemSolvers on them.

    Seriously, there's just no excuse. As a nation, we must rise up against this evil, and destroy it once and for all.

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:11AM (#5456290)
      "During the previous article I made a call for peace. I suggested that it was too early to condemn SCO for they had done nothing vicious, and we had no way to tell precisely what was planned."

      We need to give the inspectors more time. War is wrong. Bush just wants the oil.

      Oh... sorry. Wrong cause.
    • No doubt this will be modded flamebait but I have to speak my mind on this one--

      Caldera/SCO is one of those companies which I have absolutely no good will towards. Sure, someone had to sue Microsoft over the antocompetitive actions against DR DOS, but Caldera didn't even really pretend that the product was a real addition to their product line. They only bought it to sue Microsoft and after they settled, they sold it to Lineo.

      Then they bought SCO and became the SCO Group. BTW, this was after they were sued by their shareholders for inflating profits before Enron broke.

      Since they dislike the GPL, and can't find a good way to pretend that Linux is proprietary, their business model seems to be:
      1: Buy dying products
      2: Sue other companies
      3: Win or settle
      4: Profit
      5; Sell dying product line to other companies
      6: Profit again

      If they were ethical, I would support them.... but I can find no ethics, or any other virtues....

      Lets hope this is dismissed soon..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:38AM (#5456007)
    today sco also announced they are moving their centre of operations to a hollowed out volcano, and branching out to the lucrative area of 'fricken sharks with fricken laser beams on their fricken heads'

    *pinky finger to mouth*
  • by buffer-overflowed ( 588867 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:39AM (#5456018) Journal
    "It's a fairly end-of-life move for the stockholders and managers of that company," said Jonathan Eunice, an Illuminata analyst. "Really what beat SCO is not any problem with what IBM did; it's what the market decided. This is a way of salvaging value out of the SCO franchise they can't get by winning in the marketplace." - Best and most accurate quote on SCO/Caldera ever imo.

    Seriously tho, IBM says nothing for linux to fear but FUD itself (literally). Caldera/SCO dropped every single ball they've EVER been thrown, so much so that every thread ever started or ended here is basically a litanny of their mistakes. Sun makes UNIX, they're still alive, IBM still makes AIX, they're certainly alive, poor SCO is dead in the water so they sue.

    My guess is the next thing they'll do is sell all their IP to microsoft, and microsoft will use it as a giant club against other vendors. So it's in our best interests to see them stay afloat, otherwise some other patent-abusing, money hungry group of corporate bastards with more money will have all of their "intellectual property" and will actually have the cash to use it. IBM has the cash to hold things up in court long enough to A> Have the costs of the settlement (if ever reached) be deferred by inflation and B> Have the underlying patents they're being sued for actually expire.

    Plus, IBM is the former evil empire, they have no qualms whatsoever using their vast horde of defensive patents to counter sue someone into the ground.
    • isn't just a quantum effect, it is a risk factor when considering the technology of a company. Venture Capitalists loathe it because it particularly because it puts a large legal question mark over a potential investment.

      My feeling is that this is an MS-inspired shot over the bows to scare VCs and IT chiefs away from Linux. In one case it really doesn;t matter whether SCO/Caldera wins or loses, it just hast to leave a suspicion in these people's minds.

      This mean's that not only must IBM win, but they should win 'loudly', i.e., so those people who may be worried about Linux realise that they shouldn't be.

  • IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:42AM (#5456038) Homepage
    IBM probably has more technology patents than any other company on Earth (and possibly other planets, too early to tell). I'm willing to bet they can find hundreds of violations in SCO's product lines and bury them.

    Either way though, you just know this is going to become a bullet point on Microsoft's next Linux FUD page ("see, use linux and you can get sued).


    • Sueing IBM for patent infringement is like playing russian roulette with a semi-auto gun..... and going first, and second, and third... etc.
    • by fw3 ( 523647 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:30AM (#5456435) Homepage Journal
      That was my 2nd thought "what are they thinking? the counter suit could bury them"

      My first thougth was "what idiot suit at SCO thinks they can make a case for AIX being SYSV-derived?"

      The logic(sic) they are asserting seems to be: AIX is based on SYSV that SCO acquired from AT&T, and that IBM's moved those ideas into Linux.

      Nice fantasy. AIX is based on the Mach microkernel from CMU, which in turn is BSD-derived. Even at that it is very much re-implemented, using such intersting magic as an O-O system configuration database, and the first widely available journalling filesystem for a *nix.

      People think of AIX as being SYSV because it implements a SYSV *interface*. IBM is all about standards and AIX achieved System-V (and later versions) standard compliance *and* BSD compliance wherever that did not conflict.

      So no, SCO hasn't got a leg to stand on on this aspect. I wish them luck they are toing to need it.

  • hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:42AM (#5456040) Journal
    on the second page [] of the eweek [] article [], it seems that SCO may have pretended to be a market-research company that called around and asked how would the companies feel if SCO had sued them on intellectual property rights. including SONY and Ford, which also runs linux on... stuff.

    my immediate question is, Ford runs linux? on what?

    and second question is, isn't SCO like... Caldera?

    aaaanyway; I guess linux is taking away the marked share of UNIX boxes a lot more than it's headway into the desktop (windows) arena. fighting the wrong crowd, I'd say...

    maybe microsoft will file a suit that says "we want damages because linux makes our business model un-profitable."

  • Way to go, SCO! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by farrellj ( 563 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:43AM (#5456053) Homepage Journal
    SCO/Caldera sells Linux, this lawsuit is may have a chilling effect on Linux sales...why is SCO shooting itself in the foot?

    If they had an idea about things, they would donate said IP to Linux/GNU, and reap many billions of Dollars of good will and karma, and I would go out and buy their distro to support them if that is what they had did.

    When companies litigate instead of innovate, you know they are probably not long for this world.

    • Re:Way to go, SCO! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chmarr ( 18662 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:50AM (#5456134)
      You're talking about a company that is on it's death throes. Sure, they might be able to get a chunk of goodwill, but without a viable product to sell, they can't convert that goodwill into cash.

      The edict of running a public company is to make money. The executives are dutybound to squeeze every last dollar out of what they can before they go under, and rest assured, go under they will.

      Unfortuantely, what will happen is that in the liquidation, the IP will be sold off to another company and they, too, will see what sort of money they can squeeze out of it. I bet it's PanIP that buys the IP... any takers?
  • by stwrtpj ( 518864 ) <p,stewart&comcast,net> on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:44AM (#5456059) Journal

    Of course, just as I post my story submission to slashdot on this, no sooner than I reload the page after submitting it when the story appears from someone else. Doh!

    Seriously, though, I think I'll repeat a comment that I made in my story submission. Does anyone else think that SCO has bitten off more than they can chew? I knew that they were going to make a move, but I thought for sure they were going to pick an "easy" target, like some small Linux distributor. About as big a company as I suspected they would hit was Red Hat.

    Suing IBM was a huge mistake. Or more accurately: suing IBM first was a big mistake. They should have done what other companies have, which is take on the little fish in the pond hoping some will roll over and pony up the dough, before attempting to harpoon the whale.

    Not that I'm unhappy about this turn of events, mind you. IBM, which has had more experience in dealing with IP rights and patents in the little finger of one of their lawyers than SCO has in their entire company, will pound them into the dirt. The sound you are now hearing is that of the death dirge for SCO.

    • by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @02:15AM (#5456705) Homepage Journal

      Suing Red Hat may have been the one way to get Slashdot geeks off their ass and actually physically protesting somewhere. A giant PR disaster is not a good way to cash out on a dying company. Suing a megacorp in hopes of winning a modest settlement is. A company like IBM has money, but suing them for 1 billion is really throwing down the gauntlet. They could've settled for a couple of million, but IBM will make an example of Caldera for this insolence.

  • Takeover (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WetCat ( 558132 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:44AM (#5456062)
    Can IBM take over (buy) SCO, effectively cutting this lawsuit off?
    • Re:Takeover (Score:3, Funny)

      by cgleba ( 521624 )
      Great question that I was wondering myself. At this point SCO (Caldera) may be cheaper then even the cost of a lawsuit.

      Perhaps that was SCO's intention after all when they decided to go after IBM fisrt . . .
  • Allege! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ic3p1ck ( 597610 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:45AM (#5456072)
    "We are alleging they have contaminated their Linux work with inappropriate knowledge from Unix," said Chris Sontag, senior vice president of operating systems at SCO
    allege: To assert without or before proof
    So they're alleging, they're not actually accusing because they have no idea! Just trying to see if they can make a quick buck.
  • by 1nv4d3r ( 642775 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:45AM (#5456076) Homepage
    "Some claims, though, have more potential merit, Eunice said. One is that creating Unix on Intel processors needed expertise that SCO developed but IBM lacked, Eunice said."
    (this was from the article)

    If IBM lacked it, which I doubt, I guess we can all be thankful that Linus had the expertise needed to create a Unix on Intel processors. What an idiot.

    • If IBM lacked it, which I doubt, I guess ...

      Wait a second... IBM lacked the knowledge of operating systems and hardware architecture which is, to this day, still called IBM-compatible?

      SCO: "Yes, your honor, they invented the sewing machine, but they don't know how to thread the needle."
      Judge (to IBM): "Do you guys know how to thread the needle?"
      IBM: "You betcha."
      Judge: "Cased dismissed."
      Bailiff: "Next case is: MPAA vs. SCO."
      SCO: "WTF?"
      Judge: "Order in the courtroom!"
      MPAA: "Your honor, we hereby declare that SCO used and engaged in unlicensed and illegal performance of our copyrighted content."
      SCO: "WTF?"
      Judge: "Order!"
      MPAA: "They made fools of themselves, and then they asked $1 billion in ransom from the biggest software corporation - all this while arguing about some software invented in 1970s; you see, your honor, this directly violates our copyright for unauthorized public performance from our recent Austin Powers movie..."
      Judge: "Hahahaha! I loved that part..."
      Judge (turning to SCO): "Why did you guys do this?"
      SCO: "WTF?"
      Judge: "OK, I've had enough of this. I hereby order that all intellectual property of SCO be put into public domain effective immediately. I also order that MPAA send me the special feature DVDs of all Austin Powers movies so I can further review the evidence. We'll reconvene in 4 weeks."

      On a more serious note, if SCO (then Caldera) themselves distributed Linux and thereby accepted the GPL terms, how can they claim patent rights to any GPLed code? If they did have some patent issues they should have pointed those out then, without agreeing to GPL. On the other hand, if they did not agree to GPL, then they are in gross violation of copyright law and can probably be sued out of existence by copyright holders. EFF not interested?
  • by loucura! ( 247834 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:45AM (#5456080)
    If Caldera is using their Patents in their GPL OS, then they have to give open use of all patents to everyone, or they cannot distribute their code under the GPL. If they are making modifications to their Linux OS with concepts under the patent, then they cannot distribute their Linux OS. Correct? Since they are precluding usage of their patented code by anyone else, then they are adding additional restrictions to the GPL which makes it no longer "free".

    7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

    Good one Caldera.

  • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:46AM (#5456085) Homepage
    MS are happy campers. Mucho "IP hassles when chosing Linux" fodder for the Sales bots and white paper writers. If I was a paranoid, X-Files watching geek I'd wonder how much extra MS paid SCO (Caldera) to pull this crap when they settled thier civil anti-trust lawsuit?

    Back in reality I think this is SCO's attempt at getting bought at a premium. Lets face facts, IBM can probably bitch slap them with their own IP, but I bet SCO thinks that buying out SCO is cheaper/easier than the time and effort (not to mention the FUD damage to IBM's linux/AIX biz) IBM would have defending this.
  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:47AM (#5456098) Homepage
    SCO has a market cap of $25.68 Million []. IBM could buy them for $100Million and save %90. Or RedHat maybe.

    Actually, someone with a clue should buy them now before, ummm, someone with an interest in seeing Free Software set significantly back figures out that the UNIX IP is pretty much a sitting duck...

    • And that must be inflated like hell. I have worked with SCO servers and hated every jiffy of it.

      It's the lawyers I tell you, find the lawyers irresponsible for this and and and and and send them to be human shields in Iraq.

    • It seems like a waste of money even at $25m. I suspect they won't even be able to make $25m worth of trouble for IBM.

      But perhaps it's just a ploy by the executives to bring about just that outcome: after all, they must hold lots of nearly worthless stock and stock options. If IBM tries to buy them, it drives up the price and gives them a buyer, and they make at least some money.

    • by StillAnonymous ( 595680 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:45AM (#5456530)
      Nah, I'd rather see SCO get crushed in court. If people find out IBM basically paid-off SCO by buying them out, you'll see all kinds of nutcase lawsuits coming out of the woodwork claiming "patent infringment" by people hoping to get money thrown at them to go away.

      The line needs to be drawn.
  • Freaking me out. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:48AM (#5456110) Homepage Journal
    "IBM is affirmatively taking steps to destroy all value of Unix by improperly extracting and using the confidential and proprietary information it acquired from Unix and dumping that information into the open source community," the suit said. "IBM's tortious conduct was also intentionally and maliciously designed to destroy plaintiff's business livelihood and all opportunities of plaintiff to derive value from the Unix software code in the marketplace." - hopefully IBM wins this one and shuts SCO the hell up.

    Linux's rapid maturity--for example, growing up to work on large multiprocessor servers--is evidence of the presence of Unix intellectual property, the SCO suit said. "It is not possible for Linux to rapidly reach Unix performance standards for complete enterprise functionality without the misappropriation of Unix code, methods or concepts to achieve such performance, and coordination by a larger developer, such as IBM," the suit said.
    - cool. I guess these allegations have only to do with what IBM has been adding to the GNU/Linux code. Will it be possible to prove that there was no contamination, especially if the former AIX team was working on Linux software? I remember, maybe a year and a half ago, there was an interview on /. with AIX team working on GNU/Linux, does anyone else remember? This is going to be a tough battle, I hope Caldera loses it.
  • I love their claims (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JohnZed ( 20191 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:51AM (#5456138)

    - "creating Unix on Intel processors needed expertise that SCO developed but IBM lacked"
    - "It is not possible for Linux to rapidly reach Unix performance standards for complete enterprise functionality without the misappropriation of Unix code"

    Apparently they didn't notice that IBM owns Sequent, which has been shipping 32-processor Intel boxes since the mid-90s... (e.g. 82597b.HTM) []
  • by pointym5 ( 128908 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:55AM (#5456181)
    IBM has tens of thousands of patents. Suing IBM over patent infringement is almost 100% guaranteed to be a terribly bad idea, because IBM will just turn around and recite the litany of IBM patents SCO is infringing. Stupid stupid stupid.
  • by pitr256 ( 201315 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @12:57AM (#5456190) Homepage
    They don't start with a couple of smaller fish, but instead go for the biggest whale in the sea. They should file for Chapter 7 tomorrow. Even the analysts think this is lame.

    The best quote in the CNET story is from the suit itself which says and I quote, "It is not possible for Linux to rapidly reach Unix performance standards for complete enterprise functionality without the misappropriation of Unix code, methods or concepts to achieve such performance, and coordination by a larger developer, such as IBM," So all that hard work all the developers and Linux did for the last 10 years were for nothing.

    And there you have it. SCO is dead. How can SCO sell a Linux product anymore when they themselves are saying, "Hey, we don't know how Linux could have gotten so good. It must have been from misappropoation of our trade secrets."

    Who in their right mind would buy anything from these losers?
  • by magellan ( 33560 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:00AM (#5456208)
    Given that project Monterey was about developing a commercial UNIX for Itanium, and given that IBM abandoned SCO and produced AIX5L for Itanium and discontinued it shortly thereafter, I really do not know what SCO's beef is.

    Project Monterey had nothing to do with x86. So what if IBM is pushing Linux on x86.

    Now if IBM produced its own Linux distribution for Itanium, and SCO saw some of its Monterey source in the distro, SCO might have a claim.
  • by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:01AM (#5456221) Homepage Journal
    At least some of the claims just don't pass the sniff test.

    When AIX came out in 1990 or so, it was so different from SVR4 that competitors cried "AIX isn't UNIX". IBM really did a huge amount of kernel work and had all sorts of administrative features borrowed conceptually from the mainframe that were lacking in UNIX at the time. Journalling filesystems, logical volume management, etc. just for starters. The toolset for managing AIX was (and still is, to some extent) quite different from other UNIXes. I think IBM kept the SVR3/4 APIs but re-wrote
    most of the code below it back in the late 80s.

    You know you have a weak argument when you start seeing claims like this:
    Added Sontag [SCO SVP], "When they (IBM) started utilizing the same engineers that worked on the Unix System V source code and the ultimate derivative of it in the form of AIX, they have
    effectively been applying our methods and concepts, even if there isn't a single explicit line of code" that shows up in Linux.

    Believe me, there are a lot of methods and concepts that UNIX (System V/VII,SVR4) stole from predecessors, and continues to steal! Where's the suit from the MULTICS guys against AT&T? Citing executive's handwavings generalizations about leveraging UNIX expertise makes for a pretty weak legal case (and PR case imho). Monterey always had too much hand-waving for me to get enthusiastic about.

    However, the issue of IBM allegedly re-creating versions of SCO libraries using SCO's actual code sounds interesting. SCO binary compatibility is actually something somewhat valuable that SCO should fully defend if it was unlawfully infringed upon via trade secret leakage rather than cleanroom reverse engineering. Still, if I remember correctly, most of the SCO/Linux binary compatibility stuff was done by some guy at SCO (Avi Tevananian or something like that? I'm butchering his name, sorry.) SCO was working on Linux binary compatibility before IBM even knew Linux existed. So to speak.

    As far as infringing on how to run Linux on Intel, clearly Linus managed that without anyone's help. Now running Linux on IA-64, or perhaps some particular acceleration technique used by SCO might be grounds for a decent case depending on the particular evidences involved. I guess we'll see.

    With revenues less than Red Hat, and a business model going nowhere, a legal approach makes sense for SCO. IBM can afford the lawsuit and probably route around it better than, say, Intel could route around Clipper chip infringements in existing products. If it lays clearer guidelines for Linux IP, so much the better. I guess that's what I'm hoping for. As a betting man though, I wouldn't bet on SCO for this case. Unless there are more rabbits in that hat.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:17AM (#5456337) Homepage Journal
    SCO is the thief who puts a gun to his own head and says give me your money or I'll shoot.

    I haven't read the filings yet, but it sounds as if SCO's main claim is that IBM (and perhaps others) violated their non-disclosure agreements by allowing employees who had seen the Unix source code to work on Linux. However, Linux was developed first on the Intel i386 processor family, way back in 1991, at least five years before IBM took an interest in it. Linux follows MINIX, an even earlier published-source-code system that very clearly isn't derived from Unix - its architecture was very different.

    SCO claims that Linux could not have become ready for the enterprise so quickly without use of art originating in Unix. They seem to ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of people have been educated in operating systems programming, and that very healthy communities of scientific research exist for systems design, and that most of the enterprise-ready features originated in research operating systems and only later were ported to Unix.

    They claim that the Linux libraries could not have been produced without input from Unix. But these libraries are written to a printed specification called POSIX, published by the U.S. government and available to the general public. The GNU C library, and many other Linux libraries, existed long before IBM's involvement. We also had printed "man pages" for Unix available in bookstores without restrictions on implementation of the documented facilities, and shelves of published documentation on Unix in every technical bookstore.

    So, I think the claims I've heard are specious, and not enforcible in court. Why, then, is SCO doing this? They want to be purchased. This is the exit strategy for their investors, Canopy Group. IBM can buy them just to shut them up. Or Microsoft can buy them to use them to FUD Linux. And Canopy Group management figures they'll play the two against each other to drive up the price. But IBM management is smart enough to poison this particular well, by bringing counter-claims against SCO.

    SCO is also party to the GPL, which invalidates their patent portfolio for any of their patents that happen to have been used in a Linux system that they distributed. Under the GPL terms, if you distribute your patented practice in GPL software, you must grant a license to everyone to make use of that patent in any GPL software, for any field of use. This is why SCO's initial claim seems to be focusing on an NDA rather than patents. And of course, the fundamental patents that apply to Unix would have expired some 15 years ago.

    SCO can't claim that IBM (or anyone else) was hiding the Linux development from them, since Linux source is available and is part of SCO's own Linux product. They have been distributing the source code that they claim violates their own NDA as Caldera's main product for years. So, they are going to have a very small chance of making this case work.

    We in the Free Software developer community must make it clear that we will not tolerate specious intellectual property claims on our software, even if those claims are directed to a user or industrial partner rather than an individual developer. The obvious first step that would occurr to any of us would be to shun SCO - not to do business with them, not to recommend them in our jobs, etc. SCO must have known that they'd be shunned for these shenanigans, and they went ahead with them anyway. This means they're writing off their entire software and operating systems business. SCO is owned by Canopy Group, I guess those folks are writing off their other software businesses, too.

    I look forward to getting a look at the court papers, and being a witness for the defense or amicus curae in these cases. I'm sure I'll be joined by a lot of you. In addition, we may have our own infringement claims to make, if the SCO filing violates the GPL terms. I doubt there will be much left of SCO at the end of this.

    These folks could have been good partners. Other people in industry were, and beat Caldera and SCO in the market. Canopy Group, their venture firm, were the real managers of SCO and Caldera. Front-men like Ransom Love were not the ones making real decisions. Their business failed, and others flourished, because Canopy Group never understood how to be our partners. They've chosen to screw us one last time on the way out the door. Let's do our best to turn it back on them.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:21AM (#5456371)
    Software patents are like nuclear weapons. Given that the patent office is handing them out like Mardi Gras beads, there are now only essentially two reasons why you might want to have either, assuming you're a rational actor:

    1) If you're a nation, you want nuclear weapons because they act as a deterrent against other nations using nuclear weapons against you. In
    other words, you acquire them so that you never have to use them.

    2) If you're a terrorist, then you want nuclear weapons because you want to use them on nations, or as blackmail. You have no nation yourself, and therefore are not vulnerable to nuclear retaliation.

    Similarly, the two reasons for acquiring software patents are:

    1) If you're a software manufacturer. You want some broad software patents that your competitors infringe on, so that your competitors won't able to sue you for infringing on their patents. This allows you to form treaty alliances called cross-licensing agreements.

    2) If you don't manufacture software. Because you are in no risk of being sued for patent infringement yourself, you can sue other software companies without fear of reprisal. Hence the invention of the "IP Holding Legal Company", whose sole purpose is to purchase overbroad software patents and sue the rest of the industry.

    There's an apocryphal story about the Microsoft lawyer who contacted the IBM lawyer, notifying him that one of IBM's products infringed on a Microsoft patent. The IBM lawyer agreed to meet with the Microsoft lawyer to discuss the situation. The IBM lawyer arrived, carrying a huge stack of papers, which he dropped on the desk with a bang. The pile of papers, he told the Microsoft lawyer, were the IBM patents that Windows infringed on, and the meeting was over.

    In this case, IBM, Sun, etc are the legitimate actors. They are all software manufacturers with an interest in continuing to manufacture software.

    SCO, on the other hand, has just in effect announced its intent to cease manufacturing Unix software, and reinvented themselves as a legal organization. They are sure to be overwhelmed with a massive IBM patent countersuit that destroys their ability to offer Unix, so all they will have as a revenue source is their ability to sue legitimate Unix vendors.

    IBM is going to drive them into the ground, and I won't feel a drop of pity for them.

  • by BJH ( 11355 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:25AM (#5456409)

    Dear IBM,

    Please spend the $US25.68 million it would require to buy out SCO, and then fire every single member of their management and legal department.

    Thank you,

    A Linux user.
  • Dr SCO! (Score:5, Funny)

    by babbage ( 61057 ) <(ude.lahtuosu.sic) (ta) (srevedc)> on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:28AM (#5456424) Homepage Journal

    61 INT. DR. SCO'S VOLCANO LAIR - MAIN ROOM Dr. SCO at his table with Frau, Scott, and Number Two.

    DR. SCO Get me the President of the IBM.

    The PRESIDENT appears on Dr. SCO's video screen with his BOARD MEMBERS behind him.


    PRESIDENT Dr. SCO, what do you want?

    DR. SCO Not what I want Mr. President, but I will receive. In 12 hours I will destroy your industry with a giant patent.

    Dr. SCO reveals a giant patent. Minix-me is humping it like a dog.

    DR. SCO OK, Minix-me, why don't you and the patent get a frickin' room. Honestly. [ to President ] I will destroy another major distribution every hour- that is, unless you pay me- [ SNAP ZOOM ] One hundred billion dollars!

    The President and his advisors LAUGH.

    PRESIDENT Dr. SCO that's more than the entire US economy for 2002.

    DR. SCO Don't play games with me. Your UNIX will disappear if I don't receive [ SNAP ZOOM ] One hundred billion dollars!

    His advisors LAUGH.

    PRESIDENT That much money simply doesn't exist. I don't think 100 billion is even a number. It's like saying I want a kajillion bajillion dollars. [ His advisors LAUGH. ]

    DR. SCO Come on, Mr. President... [ SNAP ZOOM ] "Show me the money!"

    Dr. SCO looks around smugly. No one laughs.


    [ SNAP ZOOM ]

    DR. SCO "Show me the money!"

    He looks around again, expectantly.

    PRESIDENT I'm sorry, I don't understand.

    DR. SCO You know, kwan? Show me the money? No? Nothing?

    SCOTT It's 2003. That movie stopped being a cultural buzzword 30 years ago, ass. They don't know what you're talking about.

    DR. SCO Right. OK, see if you understand this: give me the money or I'm going to blow you to frickin' bits, OK?

    The President and his advisors MURMUR.


    DR. SCO [ making 'stop' gesture ] Talk to the hand!

    Dr. SCO signs off.

    with thanks to whoever posted this script [], and with great annoyance at whoever decided that Slashdot posts with low average line lengths are a bad thing, and so need to be offset by pointless filler like this to bring up the average -- apologies while I pad this just a little more, and please feel free to disregard this last paragraph so that the average line count goes above, apparently, 30. Two things you can apparently never include in this news for nerds sites: program code (you can talk about open source, but you can't share it here!) and, apparently, movie scripts. Go figure.... Anyway, this should be enough padding, pretend this whole last paragraph is wrapped in a <!-- sorry --> block :-)

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:28AM (#5456425) Journal
    This is going to be fun to watch:

    Single Camouflaged Operative vs International Battle Marines.

    Do a search on the USPTO for International Business Machines as assignee, and file as title, and you get 300+ hits. This is out of their 32000+ patents.
  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) < minus cat> on Friday March 07, 2003 @01:57AM (#5456603) Journal
    "It's a fairly end-of-life move for the stockholders and managers of that company," said Jonathan Eunice, an Illuminata analyst.
    I thought it was the illuminati???
  • IBM makes a pretty good first target when you think about it:
    They have very heavy ties to both UNIX (via AIX) and Linux. It wouldn't be a big shock to learn that they've moved some top engineers between the two OSs. They've also got big pockets, and a large customer base which means -- if they lose -- you can dig deep into those big pockets.

    IBM is also, arguably, among the least sympathetic of the big Linux players. They have a history of being a mega-corp who (in their own time) defined the acronym FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt). Perhaps SCO is hoping that the Linux community will be less whole-hearted in jumping to the defence of the once - anything - but - open - source megalith.

    If IBM loses big, the size of the settlement/charge could shell-shock smaller linux companies into looking for a cheap out.

    Running against SCO, however, is the fact that Unix is ancient.. Ancient enough that patents on it's basic design technology -- if they were patentable back then -- are going to be expired by now. This means that most of the violations are likely to be copyright violations -- and most of Linux's code base is not from IBM.

    Happily, IBM is far from an early booster for Linux. By the time IBM jumped on the bandwagon, Linux already had a long and happy history of exponentional growth and improvement. SCO's claim that Linux couldn't have grown that fast without stealing code is going to have to swim against that tide.

    Yo prove IBM liable for copyright violation, SCO is going to have to point to specific code that IBM stole from UNIX, and show that it was IBM that installed that code in Linux and not somebody else. That's going to be a difficult feat == especially given Linux's history and idea pool (the whole world).

    IBM is well versed in litigation by attrition. Much like Microsoft, they took on the DOJ in the '70s -- arguably with more success.

    SCO has a formidable opponent, and the possibility of massive profits if it wins big. Needless to say, I do not wish them luck.

  • SCO has always blown (Score:3, Interesting)

    by setag ( 549313 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @02:15AM (#5456699) Journal
    I had a friend (yeah, that's it) that used to work for SCO when they were still in Santa Cruz, CA.

    The executive team would get up in front of the employees at quarterly meetings and talk about how Linux was not a threat and that SCO UNIX on Intel was superior. Who's SCO's daddy now?

    Also, this umm, friend of mine also reported rumors of the former SCO CEO being offered more money than SCO was worth back in 1999 from SUN for the company. SCO's CEO supposedly had harsh words for Mr. McNeely.

    So, then Caldera buys SCO.
    Don't forget that SCO spun off Tarantella at the same time-another failing company.

    Then Caldera changes name to SCO Group. Now they sue IBM.

    What a bunch of losers!

    I hope that I get another call from SCO's "partner" program people about developing software for their platform. It will be a lovely discussion.

    I wonder if The SCO Groups head Lawyer is still the same one from SCO (pre-caldera). He was an ex-SUN lawyer.
  • SCO's Microsoft Past (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erlkonig ( 15872 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @02:22AM (#5456736) Homepage Journal
    We used SCO's Unix in 1990 or so to teach Unix students for a while, but after noticing that we'd had to plug in GNU software for almost everything to make it work, we finally switched to SunOS, and later to Linux. But that's not the interesting part. What is, is that Iremember the SCO's original Unix booting with the horrifying sight of Microsoft's copyrights on the Unix flavor underneath.

    You might say, "What? Microsoft did Unix in the 80s? No! That's insane!".

    Apparently Microsoft had been working on Unix in some respect for a while, until Bill had decided it had no future (or perhaps, just not a proprietary enough one), and (or so I infer) sold it or licensed it to the Santa Cruz Operation.

    This would make for much irony if SCO won their little suit, but then Microsoft bought them to try to reassert control over what Bill once thought was irrelevant, and now clearly -is- the future.

    The comments in the suit about IBMs AIX and its claimed collision with the Unix patents is pretty funny, since apparently one of the miseries of doing AIX design was going before a little review board that would judge the odds of your perfectly good code intersecting known non-IBM patents, and then making you break it until it didn't - or so goes one unfortunate's tale.

    All of this is, of course, hearsay, so if you were there, just tell us what really happened, yes? :-)

    • by josh crawley ( 537561 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @03:05AM (#5456923)
      YOu dont seem to get it. After doing the interpeter stuff for Apple, Microsoft created an 8086 Unix clone called Xenix. They decided to split IP into 2 seperate companies. Xenix mangaers went to create Santa Cruz Operations (SCO). SCO WAS a part of MS, and for a while, they owned 11% of the company. They might even now..
  • by rkhalloran ( 136467 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @02:28AM (#5456767) Homepage
    (a) sue the Linux company with the deepest pockets. Those Red Hat guys are barely making any money, let's go after Big Blue with their $1B Linux budget.

    (b) IBM unchains the Lawyer Horde, buckles on their Patent Shield (c) and proceeds to lay the legal smackdown on SCO

    (c) then buys up the smoking ruins of SCO for even less than they're worth now


  • by fanatic ( 86657 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @02:33AM (#5456798)
    ...oh, wait, we already are. Nevermind.
  • IBM could buy SCO (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Colonel Panic ( 15235 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @03:14AM (#5456956)
    ...and thus shut them up.

    Let's see, SCO's revenue is ~$20million/quarter and isn't the rule something like 4x revenue, so for $80million IBM could buy SCO thus killing the lawsuit and put SCO out of it's misery (and spare the rest of us all the FUD SCO is spreading). ...a small price to pay for IBM.
  • by Nemus ( 639101 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2003 @03:40AM (#5457043) Journal
    Onlookers were stunned today when it was found that the headquarters of the company SCO had been replaced by a giant smoking crater, which completly obliterated any trace of the company's phsyical prescence. The only clue to this occurence was a large amount of paper floating around the area, all of which seemed to be a copy of an IBM patent.

    In other news, the world's largest catapult has recently been constructed on the rooftop of IBM's world headquarters. What it is being used for no one knows, but it now seems to be pointed at Redmond, with a sign on the front which says "Try that shit again, foolios, and see what happens."

  • by tuxlove ( 316502 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @04:02AM (#5457096)
    I haven't yet read all 300+ comments here, but so far I haven't seen *any* supporting SCO. Do any of you really know what's going on here? It is quite possible that IBM did rip them off. If SCO shared proprietary code with IBM under contractual restrictions, and IBM went ahead and violated those restrictions by putting that code in other products, then IBM is in the wrong. It doesn't even matter if the code is covered by patents or not, all that matters is what the two companies agreed to on paper.

    I for one hope that whoever is truly at fault gets nailed, be it IBM or SCO. I believe that agreements should be honored. That's something that corporate America cares little about, especially if a buck can be made by ignoring an agreement. If IBM truly blew off a legitimate agreement, then they should fry. If IBM really believes SCO has no rightful claim to the intellectual property in question, then they should not have signed an agreement with SCO. It could well be that SCO is lying/embellishing/hallucinating, but maybe they're not.

    On an aside, back in the 80's and early 90's, I worked on a port of SCO Unix to a proprietary platform. What people have been saying here about SCO's "quality" is true. Their OS was crap. I can't count how many bugs in the kernel we had to fix. We even had to completely rearchitect whole subsystems. When we were done with it, it was fairly passable, but it took man years. The most appalling thing about their code was the third party SMP implementation they bought from some other company. It was truly horrendous. I believe it did improve over the years as the product matured, but obviously not enough to keep them alive.
  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2003 @04:05AM (#5457100) Homepage
    SCO was a popular platform for Unix on Intel. It was a private company, microsoft had a 20% shareholding, but it wasn't quoted on the stockmarket. It had been like that for years.

    Suddenly (about 1995): they announced that they wanted to float on the stock market, all sorts of reasons given but one side effect was that it meant that the major shareholders (the directors) would be able to 'cash in' on their shareholding by selling to Joe Shareholder. Quite unfortunately for the new share holders, Linux started to bite into SCO profits soon after float and it never really recovered.

    I have no doubt that the SCO directors had no idea that this ''new phenomenon called Linux'' would have any effect on the SCO sales & thus share price; they were only involved in that sector of the market and so would never have heard of Linux, and even if they had they would not have been able to predict the future effect on the SCO share price; it is quite coincidental that they sold their shares to the general public just before the value started to crumble.
  • by x136 ( 513282 ) on Friday March 07, 2003 @05:44AM (#5457290) Homepage
    From the eWeek article: []

    "SCO is in the enviable position of owning the UNIX operating system," said Darl McBride, president and CEO of SCO, before accidentally knocking over the podium with his enormous ego.

    Okay, so it didn't say all of that. But it could have.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter