IBM broke the terms of its Unix contract with SCO "by engaging in practices to use this Unix source code to benefit their Linux business and to destroy Unix," McBride said.
IBM is taking SCO's proprietary code and without permission putting it into the open source community. "That's where we have a major-league problem," he said.
But when asked whether SCO has direct, concrete evidence of AIX code being donated to the open source community and showing up on open source projects, McBride deflected the question. "The details of this case will be played out by the attorneys in a legal setting, so I'm not at liberty to go into the evidences we have at this point in time," he said.
McBride stated several times during the call that SCO's action is solely aimed at IBM, and not at the Linux community, to which it belongs as a maker of Linux-based software.
He said SCO approached IBM with its concerns back in December but that the companies have been unable to resolve their differences amicably, which in turn led to this lawsuit.
SCO has posted a copy of its complaint at http://www.sco.com/scosource.
Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager of the company's SCOsource intellectual property division, declined to say whether SCO is planning to sue anyone else in the near future.
"Our focus right now is on IBM," he said Friday morning before the conference call. "We have a very strong case and we're very confidently moving forward. We're fully committed to taking this all the way."
That SCO chose IBM to launch its legal offensive has upsides and downsides, said Brian Kelly, a Fenwick & West LLP partner in
The upsides are that IBM has deep pockets, so seeking large amounts of money is feasible, and that suing IBM has a high public-relations value in terms of attracting media attention, Kelly said.
The main downside is that by now IBM has so much money invested in its Linux efforts that it will have little incentive to capitulate and seek a settlement, and will probably be very willing to devote a significant amount of money and legal resources to fight the lawsuit, Kelly said.
Had SCO chosen to go after a smaller company, like a small Linux distributor, SCO would be facing much better chances of getting the upper hand in a settlement, Kelly said.
Regarding SCO's claims, Kelly said it's too early to determine how valid they are, especially without hearing IBM's reaction. "The facts still need to get fleshed out significantly," which will begin to happen once IBM comments on the lawsuit and the discovery phase of the case, and the case itself, get under way, Kelly said.
If the case draws out for years and becomes messy, it could plant seeds of uncertainty and doubt that could harm the Linux movement and hamper its momentum, as customers, developers and vendors adopt a wait-and-see attitude until the case gets resolved, Kelly said.