SCO Blasts Novell, To Reveal Disputed Linux Code

Novell copyright, patent claims irrelevant to IBM case, SCO says

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Under pressure from IBM, Novell and the Linux community, The SCO Group said Friday it will open up next week "hundreds of lines of Linux code" that will put to rest industry doubts about its legal case against IBM.

"This will be of benefit to the software community and opportunity to see the tip of the iceberg of the evidence SCO has gathered," said SCO CEO Darl McBride, who said customers, analysts and the media will be able to view the code under nondisclosure beginning next week. "There are direct lines of code from Unix and Unixware in Linux and in the Linux kernel," McBride said.

He also said Novell "caused confusion" earlier this week by alleging that it,and not SCO,owned the patents and copyrights to Unix.

McBride, a former Novell executive himself, said he was "surprised" about Novell's letter challenging SCO's ownership of Unix earlier this week and that Novell's claims to Unix copyrights and patent issues have no merit, but also said that SCO attorneys will meet with Novell.

McBride said that while SCO's attorneys will face off against Novell attorneys on those claims, the company's case against IBM is based on contracts, not patents and copyright issues.

McBride defended the breach-of-contract lawsuit SCO filed against IBM on March 7 charging that Big Blue misappropriated Unix System V code licensed from SCO. It also emphasized SCO's legal right to enforce its 30,000 System V contracts signed with more than 6,000 companies.

SCO executives said they intend to pull the plug on IBM's AIX Unix System V contract on June 13 if settlement has not been reached. It's unclear how IBM's AIX channel would be affected by an injunction.

Because of the pending litigation against IBM, SCO has thus far staunchly refused to identify the Unix code it claims IBM misappropriated and donated to Linux. However, the company decided to reverse course under significant outside pressure from customers, vendors such as Novell and other industry players. McBride said he has not spoken directly to Linus Torvalds but has been contacted by leaders in the Linux community. Torvalds told CRN recently that he would reserve judgment until he saw the code.

"The month of June is show and tell time; everyone is clamoring for the code," said McBride. "Were not going show two lines of code but hundreds of lines of code. We will show you the code [for those] who need to understand if [Unix] System V code is showing up in Linux kernel. It will level the playing field."

The continuing legal drama between SCO and the Linux community has heightened considerably since the lawsuit was filed in March.

Just a week after Microsoft offered support to SCO by signing Unix System V licenses, Novell executives claimed that Novell owns the copyrights and patents to Unix System V, which it sold to SCO in the mid 1990s.

McBride said that Novell executives exploited the controversy to win favor with the Linux community. Novell announced in April that it plans to move its NetWare, directory and groupware products and services to the Linux kernel.

McBride also alleged that Novell's motivation was to "screw" SCO publicly on the day before SCO announced company earnings.

He said SCO was scheduled to meet with Novell Vice Chairman Chris Stone last Tuesday to discuss copyright issues, but Stone did not show up. Stone declined comment on those specifics but said Novell's claims have legal merit.

"We are steadfast on our position," Stone said in an e-mail sent to CRN after SCO's briefing Friday.

Mark Hatch, COO of Integrated Computer Solutions, a Cambridge, Mass.-based Unix ISV and consulting firm that lists Disney, Lockheed Martin, Citibank and Southwest Airlines as clients, said he hopes the case is resolved soon.

"The market capitalization of SCO seems to be less than the legal exposure of all the Linux players," said Hatch. "If the case has merit, I find it hard that someone wouldn't just acquire SCO."

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