CA blasts SCO, disputes Linux license claim

It says SCO is harassing Linux users and denies buying an intellectual property license

Computer Associates International Inc. yesterday blasted The SCO Group Inc. for allegedly harassing Linux users and misrepresenting the terms of a software licensing arrangement between the two companies.

SCO Chief Financial Officer Bob Bench on Wednesday confirmed that CA was one of four publicly named companies to sign up for SCO's Intellectual Property (IP) License for Linux -- a $699-per-processor license that SCO says Linux users must purchase in order to avoid violating SCO's copyrights (see story).

Yesterday, however, a CA executive said his company had purchased no such license, but had instead acquired a large number of licenses for SCO's UnixWare operating system as part of a $40 million breach-of-contract lawsuit settlement in August 2003 with SCO investor The Canopy Group Inc.

Around the time of the settlement, SCO announced that it had signed up the first customer for its Linux license. Though SCO didn't reveal the identity of this customer, industry speculation centered around it being CA.

By acquiring the UnixWare licenses, CA indemnified itself against a possible Linux lawsuit from SCO, said Sam Greenblatt, the senior vice president and chief architect of CA's Linux Technology Group. "We did an agreement with the Canopy Group, and in the agreement with the Canopy Group, we acquired UnixWare licenses," he said. "For every UnixWare license you acquired, you got indemnified for that number of Linux licenses."

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell disagreed with Greenblatt's characterization and said CA had indeed obtained an IP License for Linux. "UnixWare licenses allow SCO customers to run UnixWare, and the SCO Intellectual Property License allows Linux end users to run our Unix intellectual property in binary form in Linux. Today, CA has a license in place to run our Unix IP in binary form in Linux without fear that they may be infringing on our intellectual property," he said in an e-mail interview.

Greenblatt strongly objected to the portrayal of CA as a SCO IP License for Linux customer. "To represent us as having supported the SCO thing is totally wrong," he said. Greenblatt had harsh words for SCO and the company's CEO, Darl McBride, whose tactics, he said, were "intended to intimidate and threaten customers."

"We totally disagree with his approach, his tactics and the way he's going about this," said Greenblatt.

Separately, another company mentioned as a SCO Linux licensee yesterday denied knowledge of any such agreement. Though SCO's Bench had confirmed Carthage, Mo.-based Leggett & Platt Inc. as a licensee on Wednesday, a spokesman for the manufacturing company said he had no knowledge of such a deal.

"I have now talked to our people who handle our Linux systems and, at least at a corporate level, we have not bought such a license from SCO Group," said John Hale, the company's vice president of human resources. "To their knowledge, they would not have an interest in doing so.

"It's conceivable -- we're a large, far-flung corporation -- that some unit of Leggett & Platt in some part of the country may have been persuaded to buy such a license. But if they did, we are not aware of it," Hale said.

One financial analyst said that the conditions surrounding the CA license didn't cast a favorable light on SCO, which has claimed that Linux illegally contains some of its Unix code.

"I think it just speaks to the weakness of their case. Why could [CA] have not been convinced to take a license without legal action?" said Dion Cornett, a managing director at Decatur Jones Equity Partners LLC in Chicago.

The other two companies that have been named as IP License for Linux customers are Houston-based EV1Servers.Net and Salt Lake City-based Questar Corp. Both have confirmed that they did purchase SCO's license.


Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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