Claims legal action not aimed at open-source community
SCO filed legal action against IBM in the State Court of Utah for misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference, unfair competition and breach of contract.
The complaint alleges that IBM has tried to destroy the economic value of Unix on Intel-based systems as a way to forward its growing Linux services business. SCO executives hinted, for example, that IBM's donation of AIX Unix code to the open-source community violates its license with SCO, which owns the Unix source code on which IBM AIX is based.
In a statement issued after the announcement, IBM denied that SCO had expressed any concerns before and called the charges baseless.
"The complaint is full of bare allegations with no supporting facts," the statement said. "SCO never approached IBM to raise this complaint; nor did they inform us in advance of filing the lawsuit. IBM has been openly supporting Linux and open standards for several years--and neither SCO nor any of its predecessors ever expressed these concerns to us."
The leading Unix OS provider, Sun, took the opportunity to try to persuade AIX customers to move to Solaris.
"In light of SCO's legal dispute with IBM over Unix licensing rights, Sun announced it has absolutely no licensing issues with SCO today," said a statement issued by Sun after the lawsuit was filed and announced. "Sun's previous licensing agreements give Sun complete Unix [intellectual property] rights in relation to Sun's operating systems. This makes the Solaris operating system a safe choice for customers moving forward."
SCO executives said the company, formerly Caldera Systems, is not attacking Linux or the open-source community and that the suit is aimed at IBM for intellectual property violations.
"The contract requires that the Unix source code remain confidential, and IBM knowingly engaged in a major campaign to make Linux one of their highest priorities and to destroy Unix," said Darl McBride, president and CEO of SCO, in a conference call on Friday. "This is not about UnitedLinux. This is not about us going after the Linux community. This is a direct violation of [IBM's] Unix contract with SCO."
SCO has a significant Unix business and channel but also pushes its own Linux distribution and applications based on UnitedLinux, a standard backed by SuSE, SCO, Conectiva and TurboLinux.
IBM said it would support UnitedLinux when the consortium and distribution was formally announced last November, but IBM Global Services unveiled a major reselling and services pact with Red Hat last year.
Meanwhile, some Linux channel partners say SCO is making a big mistake.
"I can't describe the amount of bad feeling this is generating in the [Linux] community," said Anthony Awtrey, vice president of integration at I.D.E.A.L. Technology, a Linux solution provider in Orlando, Fla. "Unless SuSE dissociates themselves from this fiasco, UnitedLinux is dead."
SuSE Linux AG, for its part, plans to issue a formal statement later on Friday.