SCO to launch first end-user lawsuit

The company had threatened to sue Linux users over intellectual property issues

The SCO Group Inc. today plans to launch its first lawsuit against a Linux user for alleged violations of SCO's intellectual property, SCO CEO Darl McBride said yesterday.

SCO has embroiled itself in legal disputes in the past year with IBM, Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc. over whether Linux illegally contains Unix source code that is owned by SCO. SCO has threatened to sue Linux users in the past, and in May it sent letters to 1,500 large companies warning them that, unless they purchased software licenses from SCO, they could be legally liable.

SCO claimed in November to be 90 days away from launching a lawsuit against an end user, but the deadline passed recently without a suit having been filed. However, SCO is now ready to proceed with litigation against a single Linux customer, McBride said in an interview.

After consulting with its law firm, Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP, SCO has narrowed down its list of possible targets to a "handful" of the world's 1,000 largest corporations, McBride said. "We're going to file it tomorrow. It's sort of come down to a couple of complaints we have prepared," he said.

McBride declined to offer more details other than to say that the companies being considered were neither Internet service providers nor technology companies and that they all had recognizable names.

Speaking at the Software 2004 conference in San Francisco yesterday, McBride said that other lawsuits would follow. "I don't see hundreds and hundreds of lawsuits like the RIAA did, but I do see more than one," he said, referring to the lawsuits the Recording Industry Association of America Inc. has filed against online file-swappers.

Launching lawsuits against large corporations will do little more than speed up SCO's demise, according to Bruce Perens, a founder of the Open Source Initiative. "If you shake down a company that way, especially a Fortune 1,000 company -- a company that has a good many more lawyers than SCO -- that tends to blow up in your face," he said. "SCO can confuse as many people as they want. They're still going to eventually go out of business. They can't win these suits."

This is proving to be a week of firsts for SCO. Yesterday, the Lindon, Utah, company for the first time revealed the name of one of its SCO Intellectual Property License for Linux licensees (see story). The company, Houston-based EV1Servers.net, has purchased site licenses from SCO for its two data centers for an undisclosed seven-figure sum, according to SCO.

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Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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