The SCO Group, arguably, isn't making many friends in the Linux camp these days. Last month it filed a $1 billion lawsuit against IBM for allegedly misusing Unix code to bolster Linux efforts. SCO owns Unix System V code, which IBM had licensed to build AIX. SCO now acknowledges it may extend its legal activities to Linux distributors SuSE Linux and Red Hat, and doesn't rule out action against users of the open source operating system.
The move wouldn't be so unusual if not for the fact that SCO is a founding member of UnitedLinux, a group of companies that have united to distribute Linux software worldwide.
Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager of SCOsource, the SCO division in charge of managing and protecting the company's Unix intellectual property, spoke with IDGNS about SuSE, UnitedLinux, IBM and Linux users. His overall message is that Linux developers, distributors and customers are using code that doesn't belong to them and if they don't settle up with the Lindon, Utah-based software company, they can expect to see their day in court.
IDGNS: SuSE feels protected against any legal action you may consider because of contracts with SCO and with UnitedLinux in which you are a member. Do SuSE and other Linux distributors including Red Hat have reason to be worried?
CS: Regarding contracts we have with SuSE and UnitedLinux, I would unequivocally state that there is nothing in those contracts that provides them with any protection or shelter in the way they are characterizing this in the press. If I were them, I would not be making those kinds of statements.
IDGNS: Are you planning any legal action against SuSE or Red Hat?
CS: We have no action planned at this time. Our focus is on the IBM lawsuit. This does not mean, however, that we will not initiate other actions to protect our intellectual property at a future point.
IDGNS: You're a member of UnitedLinux. Would you say that your lawsuit has caused some friction within that group?
CS: Yes, there is some friction. But we've been doing our best to have open dialogs with the other participants and members in UnitedLinux. Darl McBride, the CEO (chief executive officer) of SCO, has had numerous conversations with the other CEOs within UnitedLinux. We've been doing everything we can to keep the dialogue open and are trying to work to conclusions that will be amicable for all the parties involved. We haven't come to a good conclusion yet. But we're always hopeful.
IDGNS: Wouldn't you agree that your legal action is causing uncertainty in the Linux community and that this uncertainty is undermining the marketing efforts of UnitedLinux?