November 18, 2003

Why SCO will soon be going after BSD

Author: Joe Barr and Chris Preimesberger

Officially, the "news" teleconference SCO held this morning was to announce a new deal between SCO and the David Boies legal firm. Confusion reigned as SCO attempted to clarify the details of its payments to its legal counsel, Boies Boies, Schiller & Flexner. Is the $1 million payment to Boies et al, and the transfer of 400,000 shares of SCO stock to them a contingency payment? If so, what contingency was met? Is it a legal slush fund to finance new rounds of lawsuits to keep the circus alive a little longer? Who knows? We don't care how SCO pays its counsel. But we do care about something new that came out of the teleconference.

SCO is going to attack the 1994 AT&T/BSD settlement. That's a very interesting item that the few favored analysts (and only a select few journalists) who were allowed to ask questions failed to pick up on. Here's our take on why SCO is embarking on this new course of action:

SCO has steadfastly refused to get specific about infringement of its IP. That's probably not because they are coy, but rather because they can't. The few snippets of code it dared to make public already have been laughed off the stage and quite thoroughly debunked. With both IBM and Red Hat now demanding in court that SCO show its cards, the company came to realization that it was either at the end of the trail or that it had to broaden its horizons.

They've chosen the latter. CEO Darl McBride, in fact, used the term "broad and deep" several times in his remarks, and that was no accident. Since they cannot show infringement of SCO Unix code, SCO now plans to challenge the 9-year-old settlement between AT&T and BSD. If it can successfully do that, then its claims that Linux contains tainted code can be substantiated. If it can't, SCO is dead meat.


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