@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Ram Sonagara, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

SCO: Unix plus Linux equals trouble

UnitedLinux members are not insulated from future SCO lawsuits

(IDG News Service) — The SCO Group, arguably, isn't making many friends in the Linux camp these days. Last month it filed a US$1 billion lawsuit against IBM Corp. 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 AG and Red Hat Inc., 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, software company, they can expect to see their day in court.

Question: 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?

Sontag: 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.

Question: Are you planning any legal action against SuSE or Red Hat?

Sontag: 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.

Question: You're a member of UnitedLinux. Would you say that your lawsuit has caused some friction within that group?

Sontag: 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.

Question: 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?

Sontag: There is definitely uncertainty and doubt. And there are problems identified within the Linux community. We were not the first ones to raise the intellectual property issue, but we certainly have a major issue now. Since digging into the lawsuit with IBM, we've become very aware of issues related to Linux and other areas.

Question: So what's your goal?

Chris Sontag

Sontag: Our hope is that we can bring this to a full conclusion so that everyone has a final understanding in terms of intellectual property issues.

Question: Some people are beginning to question if SCO isn't more focused on Unix these days than on Linux. Are you still committed to Linux?

Sontag: Our primary focus has always been on Unix. Our efforts related to Linux have been to provide choices and multiple solutions to our customers. This hasn't changed.

Question: Could you imagine pulling out of UnitedLinux if there is some continued friction in the group?

Sontag: We're evaluating all our initiatives related to Linux right now. We have no announcements to make regarding what we may or may not be doing at this point. But certainly we will have to reassess the businesses, opportunities and issues in the marketplace and make appropriate adjustments as we go along.

Question: So abandoning UnitedLinux is a possibility?

Sontag: I'd prefer to defer that question for now.

Question: What prompted you to initiate the IBM lawsuit when you did? Why now and not a year ago?

Sontag: We had started working on SCO source-related initiatives late last year. We began digging into a lot of issues and started having some concerns. Then we went to LinuxWorld early this year and heard statements from Steve Mills, a senior executive at IBM responsible for the company's overall software strategy. Basically, he said that IBM will exploit its expertise in AIX to bring Linux up to par with Unix and went on to say a lot of other things, like trying to help obliterate Unix. IBM is a licensee of Unix technology from SCO, originating back to contracts with AT&T Corp. So IBM's position became a big problem for us.

Question: IBM is a big company with deep pockets and plenty of political clout. Do you think you can win the case?

Sontag: We're very confident about the case. We believe we have significant evidence to present at the appropriate time in court.

Question: What is the next step?

Sontag: SCO made its initial filing. IBM was supposed to respond within 30 days. They requested an extension of 30 days, which we granted them. So after 60 days, they responded with basically nothing -- a very vanilla law school 101-type level response, which was rather surprising. This month, we will have meetings that will occur between attorneys on both sides and some scheduling hearings with the judge. Then we will move into phase of gathering documents, evidence and depositions from all parties we believe are appropriate to this lawsuit. The steps beyond that are up to the judge. [See, IBM responds to SCO's $1 billion complaint May 2.]

Question: Could this go on for months, even years?

Sontag: A complex legal issue like this could take years. However, we think we'll be able to have the issue expedited more quickly due to the damages that it is causing SCO. We also have contractual obligations to IBM related to our license of Unix System V source code, which IBM has used for AIX. We have the ability to withdraw or pull the AIX license on June 13, which should cause IBM to expedite this issue as well.

Question: What about SuSE and Red Hat customers and other Linux users? Could they face litigation or be impacted in any way?

Sontag: Certainly, as the evidence mounts, there could be concerns and issues for end customers. When you're talking about copyrighted materials or trade secrets being inappropriately obtained and released, even the recipients of that information have to have concerns.

More Stories By John Blau

John Blau is a Dusseldorf correspondent for the IDG News Service, a Linux.SYS-CON.com affiliate.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
will kranz 02/03/04 04:32:34 PM EST

I was searching for sco vs IBM suit info on Linux.
You have an interesting article, but your web site
keeps trying to send me big cookies which I resent.
I will not be back.
Server is: http://www3.sys-con.com/banners/linuxworld336.cfm

vardhman 11/27/03 01:31:30 PM EST

SCO seems to be doing nothing nowadays for making their Operation system or products better. I think they will finally start saying buy Microsoft Windows quit our Unix. They seem to be preparing for "Suing" all the time. I think they have turned up into a "suing company" from a unix company. Cant they think of doing some development work so that people buy their OS.
Threatening is not a solution. If their OS was worth so much as the Linux Kernel developers have to copy code from it, why should Linux be taking away their market of Unix?

Justin 11/27/03 07:53:29 AM EST

For a broader viewpoint on SCO's claims, and how little evidence they are able to produce, visit www.groklaw.com

For example, in their list of 'infringing' files, there are several that do not actually contain code...!


Dilbert Dobbs 11/27/03 04:45:49 AM EST

At this point, in regard to all the letters SCO has sent out, this amounts to nothing but pure assertion on SCO's part at this time. Why would anyone in a company pay money to SCO just because they happen to assert something? Obviously most folks recognize this as Microsoft looks to be the only company that has struck a deal with SCO. No surprise there.

Until SCO can get a court ruling to back them up, they're just spouting pure assertion - and they've certainly not been willing to back their demands up with any kind of proof. On this basis their demands amount to pure hog wash - or perhaps a certain style of extortion.

@CloudExpo Stories
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Evan Kirstel is an internationally recognized thought leader and social media influencer in IoT (#1 in 2017), Cloud, Data Security (2016), Health Tech (#9 in 2017), Digital Health (#6 in 2016), B2B Marketing (#5 in 2015), AI, Smart Home, Digital (2017), IIoT (#1 in 2017) and Telecom/Wireless/5G. His connections are a "Who's Who" in these technologies, He is in the top 10 most mentioned/re-tweeted by CMOs and CIOs (2016) and have been recently named 5th most influential B2B marketeer in the US. H...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
@DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises - and delivering real results.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
"We started a Master of Science in business analytics - that's the hot topic. We serve the business community around San Francisco so we educate the working professionals and this is where they all want to be," explained Judy Lee, Associate Professor and Department Chair at Golden Gate University, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Dez Blanchfield joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Dez is a strategic leader in business and digital transformation with 25 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications industries developing strategies and implementing business initiatives. He has a breadth of expertise spanning technologies such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, cognitive computing, m...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Kevin Jackson joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert and Founder/Author of the award winning "Cloud Musings" blog. Mr. Jackson has also been recognized as a "Top 100 Cybersecurity Influencer and Brand" by Onalytica (2015), a Huffington Post "Top 100 Cloud Computing Experts on Twitter" (2013) and a "Top 50 C...