SCO backs down over invoice threat

16 Oct 2003

Unix software maker SCO Group has backed off a plan to send invoices to corporate users of Linux in order to force them to buy licences for the operating system, which the company claims violates its Unix intellectual property. The company has also extended its deadline for doubling prices for the Linux licence to 31 October.

In a much publicised court case, SCO claims that IBM illegally inserted Unix code into its version of Linux. SCO sued IBM for US$1bn in March, increasing the claim to US$3bn charging that IBM had taken parts of the Unix code and introduced them into Linux, violating SCO’s intellectual property rights.

IBM launched a counterattack against SCO earlier this month with its own lawsuit. It was followed by Linux distributor Red Hat in a suit aimed at clearing itself from claims of copyright infringement.

Separate from the IBM lawsuit, SCO has said that Unix code was copied directly into Linux and the company is seeking payments of as much as US$1,399 per computer from Linux users, sending shockwaves through the IT industry worldwide.

SCO’s licensing plan has been heavily attacked by open source advocates, criticised by analysts and ignored by 84pc of the chief technology officers of Fortune 500 companies. In response, SCO claims to have already signed up an unnamed Fortune 500 company with a “large number” of Linux servers.

In June, SCO revealed plans to establish its European headquarters in Dublin. The new Dublin headquarters will initially employ 25 staff and will focus on Europe, the Middle East and Africa. SCO will grow its technical support, customer care and professional services out of its operations in Sandymount in Dublin. The company is understood to have targeted Dublin because of a perceived deep pool of Unix talent on the ground.

By John Kennedy