For more than a month now, SCO-Caldera has been doing some intellectual property (IP) saber-rattling and market posturing -- that has not been received well by the Linux, GNU/Linux, open source, and free software community. Yesterday afternoon SCO-Caldera stopped its saber-rattling and pulled the sword out of its sheath when it filed a legal action against IBM regarding claims involving the UNIX and Linux operating systems.
Paragraphs 82 through 86 of SCO-Caldera's Complaint belittle and insult Linux developers, the Linux kernel, GNU/Linux, Linux distribution providers -- in essence the entire GNU/Linux and free software community.
Earlier this afternoon, we asked Joseph Eckert, SuSE Linux's VP for Corporate Communications about this. He passed along a response to our questions from Richard Seibt, SuSE CEO.
MozillaQuest Magazine: What impact does this SCO-Caldera v IBM lawsuit have on UnitedLinux and SuSE?
MozillaQuest Magazine: The impression we formed upon skimming over the 136 paragraph Complaint is that SCO-Caldera is all bent out of shape because SCO is losing UNIX business because its UNIX customers are switching to Linux. According to SCO-Caldera's SEC Form 10-K filing, SCO-Caldera looks upon SuSE as a major competitor -- stating in part: "Our principal competitors in the Linux market include Red Hat, Sun and SuSe."
In paragraphs "82" to "86" of SCO-Caldera's Complaint, it belittles and insults Linux, Linux developers, and the entire Linux community. In effect, without naming SuSE specifically, SCO-Caldera belittles and insults SuSE too when SCO-Caldera says in paragraph "82" that "it would be difficult or impossible for the Linux development community to create a grade of Linux adequate for enterprise use." (Without the aid of the alleged actionable conduct of IBM)
How in all good conscience can SuSE partner with SCO-Caldera in UnitedLinux when SCO-Caldera so maligns Linux, the Linux community, and SuSE -- plus appears to be bent on destroying Linux -- at least as an enterprise level operating system?
Richard Seibt: We at SuSE were greatly disappointed to learn of the SCO Group's recent actions. While we agree that SCO has every right to enforce their intellectual property rights, and while we strongly believe that this does not impact Linux (as even SCO has made clear), we are concerned that these actions are not in the best interest of customers, partners and the Linux community.
Accordingly, we are currently reevaluating our relationship with the SCO Group. That said, we want to very clearly and unequivocally voice our support of the ideals and goals of UnitedLinux and the Linux community.
In addition to jeopardizing its UnitedLinux membership, SCO-Caldera's lawsuit has created other public image problems. For the most part, posts to Linux-oriented on-line forums have been critical of SCO-Caldera's lawsuit.
PCLinuxOnLine, a popular Linux forum and Linux news integrator, called for a SCO-Caldera boycott shortly after news of the Caldera v. IBM lawsuit hit the Internet. LWN.net suspended its subscription-first publication policy to publicly publish its article A look at the SCO complaint without the customary delay. This article is very critical of the Caldera v. IBM lawsuit. (Links in Resources section at the end of this aritcle.)
NewsForge's Tina Gasperson has been following the SCOsource initiative since the time when SCO-Caldera was denying there was a SCO-Source initiative in the works. In her NewsForge article today, SCO follows David Hannum's 'sucker' theory in lawsuit against IBM, she says referring to SCO-Caldera Darl McBride: My god, McBride. Are you really that desperate for funds? It sure sounds like it, according to what you said in your teleconference this morning. (Links in Resources section at the end of this aritcle.)
The lawsuit is styled:
CALDERA SYSTEMS, INC., a Delaware corporation d/b/a THE SCO GROUP,
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Defendant.
and was filed in a Utah state trial court, The Third Judicial District Of Salt Lake County, rather than in a Federal district court.
SCO-Caldera specifies four counts, also known as causes of action, in its Complaint:
Count I. Misappropriation of Trade Secrets--Utah Code Ann. §13-24-1 et seq.
Count II. Unfair Competition
Count III. Interference with Contract
Count IV. Breach of Contract
Interestingly, none of these counts are for UNIX source code copyright infringement. The impression we formed upon skimming over the 136 paragraph Complaint is that SCO-Caldera is all bent out of shape because SCO is losing UNIX business because its UNIX customers are switching to Linux. The gravamen of that hits you in the face when you read paragraphs 82 to 86 of SCO-Caldera's Complaint.
82. Linux started as a hobby project of a 19-year old student. Linux has evolved through bits and pieces of various contributions by numerous software developers using single processor computers. Virtually none of these software developers and hobbyists had access to enterprise-scale equipment and testing facilities for Linux development. Without access to such equipment, facilities, sophisticated methods, concepts and coordinated know-how, it would be difficult or impossible for the Linux development community to create a grade of Linux adequate for enterprise use.
83. As long as the Linux development process remained uncoordinated and random, it posed little or no threat to SCO, or to other UNIX vendors, for at least two major reasons: (a) Linux quality was inadequate since it was not developed and tested in coordination for enterprise use and (b) enterprise customer acceptance was non-existent because Linux was viewed by enterprise customers as a "fringe" software product.
84. Prior to IBM's involvement, Linux was the software equivalent of a bicycle. UNIX was the software equivalent of a luxury car. To make Linux of necessary quality for use by enterprise customers, it must be re-designed so that Linux also becomes the software equivalent of a luxury car. This re-design is not technologically feasible or even possible at the enterprise level without (1) a high degree of design coordination, (2) access to expensive and sophisticated design and testing equipment; (3) access to UNIX code, methods and concepts; (4) UNIX architectural experience; and (5) a very significant financial investment.
85. For example, Linux is currently capable of coordinating the simultaneous performance of 4 computer processors. UNIX, on the other hand, commonly links 16 processors and can successfully link up to 32 processors for simultaneous operation. This difference in memory management performance is very significant to enterprise customers who need extremely high computing capabilities for complex tasks. The ability to accomplish this task successfully has taken AT&T, Novell and SCO at least 20 years, with access to expensive equipment for design and testing, well-trained UNIX engineers and a wealth of experience in UNIX methods and concepts.
86. It is not possible for Linux to rapidly reach UNIX performance standards for complete enterprise functionality without the misappropriation of UNIX code, methods or concepts to achieve such performance, and coordination by a larger developer, such as IBM.
In addition to money awards for the specific damages set forth in the above four Counts, Caldera d/b/a SCO seeks additional money awards for punitive damages, exemplary damages, and attroenys' fees.
SCO-Caldera now owns a good chunk of what at one time was the intellectual property (IP) of AT&T's UNIX Systems Laboratory (USL) -- including the source code for the UNIX operating system developed by AT&T's Unix Systems Laboratory. Through a series of sales, that UNIX source code now is owned by SCO-Caldera.
SCO-Caldera claims that the GNU/Linux source code is based upon its UNIX source code. In paragraph of 74 its Complaint Caldera d/b/a SCO alleges: A new operating system derived from and based on UNIX recently has become popular among computer enthusiasts for use on personal, educational-based, and not-for-profit projects and initiatives. This operating system is named Linux.
However, prominent members of the Linux, GNU/Linux, and UNIX communities have denied SCO-Caldera's claims that Linux was derived from UNIX. Rather, they say Linux was built from the ground up and independently of the UNIX source code.
SCO-Caldera expects an anticipated $10-million in revenues from intellectual property licensing and enforcement for the fiscal quarter ending 30 April 2003. That means that SCO intellectual property licensing and enforcement will contribute nearly one-half (43.4-percent actually) of its anticipated $23-million in revenues for the fiscal quarter ending 30 April 2003.
Please see the first two parts of our series about SCO-Caldera's IP claims plus its intentions to enforce and license its intellectual property rights.
A look at the SCO complaint (LWN.net)
SCO follows David Hannum's 'sucker' theory in lawsuit against IBM Tina Gasperson, NewsForge, March 7, 2003
SCO says it has made no decision on Unix "IP" Tina Gasperson, NewsForge, January 13, 2003
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