August 8, 2003

Litigation for FUD and Profit

- by Joe Barr -
The SCO Group picked a bad week to try to give up their addiction to
news conferences, especially those regarding their lawsuit against IBM.
Red Hat filed a lawsuit against The SCO Group on Monday and IBM did the
same on Wednesday. Both filings appeared to catch SCO by surprise.

Darl McBride, CEO of The SCO Group and apparent architect of the
"litigation for FUD and profit" business plan they are now following,
tried to raise support for their stand from the enterprise, framing the
battles as being one between law and order on the one side and
intellectual property pirates on the other. Never mind that there is
considerable debate about which side of that line The SCO Group is
standing on, especially after they announced their Linux
. Marketing for the SCO Linux license consists of a threat
to sue commercial users of Linux 2.4 or later who don't buy one.

In the newsconference on Tuesday, McBride said "What is at issue here is
whether intellectual property rights will have any value in the age of
the Internet, where intellectual property rights can be simply taken
without regard for rightful ownership." He added that "Linux companies
seem to encourage that and have even made a business model around
selling unwarranted software code around a "don't ask don't tell"
policy." McBride summed up his arguments by claiming "Our society is
engaged in an important debate to decide whether intellectual property
will remain proprietary or whether it will all become communal property
according to Richard Stallman's vision for all software distributed
under the General Public License, such as Linux."

IBM added insult and irony to the situation late Wednesday afternoon by
filing a countersuit against SCO for four separate instances of patent
infringement. Don't forget that behind all the rhetoric, The SCO
Group's suit against IBM is a contract dispute. Unlike SCO's smoke and
mirror campaign, IBM's complaint stated implicitly which patents SCO has

SCO's press
yesterday in response to the IBM lawsuit continued the theme
they began earlier in the week of attacking the Linux business model and
its license rather than focusing on the issues at hand.

SCO stated "We view IBM's counterclaim filing today as an effort to
distract attention from its flawed Linux business model. It repeats the
same unsubstantiated allegations made in Red Hat's filing earlier this
week. If IBM were serious about addressing the real problems with Linux,
it would offer full customer indemnification and move away from the GPL

While McBride doesn't always appear to have a firm grasp on the issues
he addresses, his unhappiness at these "sneak attacks" by Red Hat and
IBM shows he does understand their significance: The SCO Group has a
maximum of two years to live. That's when the cases will make their way
into court and SCO's shadowy sideshow of rumor and inuendo will come to
an abrupt end.

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