posted by Roberto J. Dohnert on Tue 10th Jun 2003 01:06 UTC
IconOn March 7th 2003, the SCO Group filed a lawsuit against IBM for misappropriation of tradesecrets and contractual agreements. The scope of SCOs complaint is that IBM introduced parts of Unix System V and Project Monterey into the Linux kernel. Project Monterey was a effort to port IBM's AIX 5L onto the Intel Itanium platform, IBM withdrew from that project for reasons unknown according to the press, I believe that it was because the Itanium is a bomb.

Editorial Notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of osnews.com

In April 2003, SCO released information saying that code from Unix System V was indeed present in the Linux OS. What followed was a lot of allegations that had no merit and counter allegations. In other words, the kind of activity that the press loves. Does SCO's complaints have merit ? Im no lawyer, and after letting my attorney look at the NDA that SCO sent me, I refuse to sign it. The NDA basically states if asked the signer can only say " Yes there is common code " or " no there is not any common code ". And any signer, if called into court can give no opinion but can only state those words, " Yes " or " No ". We will be discussing these things further along in this paper. But, in no way is my opinion a substitute for professional legal advice and if you feel threatened by SCO's actions, get the advice from appropriate legal counsel.

SCO's Actions

SCO's actions are kind of mixed to me. SCO was a distributor of Linux and for many was considered a reliable and grade A company to work with. SCO, in my opinion, is trying to bolster its UnixWare and OpenServer sales. UnixWare and OpenServer are their products that they market that run on Intel hardware. Linux is their only real competition in that marketspace and what better way to get ahead than to damage your competition. SCO's avenue of attack is FUD, Fear Uncertainty and Doubt. SCO sent 1500 letters out to Fortune 1000 companies that use Linux mainstream. Those letters basically said that they believe linux to be a rip off of UNIX and that if SCO wins be prepared to pay royalties. SCO finally in June of 2003 released some of the examples of infringing code to some analysts and other so called " Experts ". I find it weird that SCO also released very little code. I think the code that they did reveal was code that had the strongest case of patent infringement. Here is an excerpt of some of the analysts statements:

"If everything SCO showed me today is true, then the Linux community should be very concerned," said Bill Claybrook, research director for Linux and open-source software at the Aberdeen Group (Boston).

Thats all fine and dandy but I find it premature for an analyst to actually make a statement like that without doing a lot more research into the SCO's claims, there are to many holes in this case and in their allegations. By the way, the full article can be found here

Another analyst said this:

"One could argue that developers could write exact or very similar code, but the developers' comments in the code are basically your DNA, or fingerprints, for a particular piece of source code," said Laura DiDio, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group (Boston), who viewed the evidence.

Also another good argument but also premature. Who was the developer? Was he/she a SCO or Novell or even a AT&T employee? or, was he/she a Linux developer? too many unanswered questions, also under what conditions did they show the code. I wouldn't say a developers comments in the code are fingerprints or DNA, because Developers comments can be altered where DNA cannot. Under SCO's conditions they can show what they want to show, and they can even manufacture their own evidence if they so wish.

DiDio and Claybrook said they were given side-by-side copies of Unix and Linux code to compare. Neither was paid for the work, and both agreed that the evidence suggests SCO has a strong case in its $1 billion suit against IBM Corp. and in its scrap with the Linux community.

Was the Linux code that they were shown downloaded directly from Kernel.org under the witness of the analysts or was it given to them directly from SCO's labs. Either way, these people are taking SCO's side of the story without doing any kind of strong research. They do not know any of the developers of Linux or of Unix, they were not able to talk to any of the developers of the infringing code. Something SCO will have to allow the courts to do if it decides to pursue this any further in a courtroom.

Table of contents
  1. "The SCO Threat, Part 1"
  2. "The SCO Threat, Part 2"
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