Linux users protest $3 billion lawsuit against IBM

The Daily Herald

June 21, 2003

LINDON -- Protesters gathered Friday in front of Lindon software company SCO to oppose the company's more than $3 billion lawsuit against IBM.

Linux users, many from Utah County, held signs and marched while chanting their objections.

"We're just trying to get the media and the public aware of the lawsuit and the kind of damage that can be done when making lawsuits with no merit," said Daniel Miller, vice-president of Utah State University's Free Software and Linux Club.

The protest had no effect, said SCO public relations director, Blake Stowell.

"It really wasn't an issue," he said. "A lot of the employees found it entertaining. There were a few of them staring out from the break room windows."

SCO's lawsuit, filed in 3rd District Court on March 6, alleges IBM has been giving away a computer code owned by SCO. It asks for $3 billion plus damages in the amount of AIX-related revenues IBM has received since June 13, Stowell said. The additional amount could be worth anywhere from $50 million to $110 million per day, he said.

SCO, which holds all the intellectual property rights to the UNIX operating system, says IBM has a license to use some of its UNIX software, but has been infringing on that license by giving UNIX source codes to a group of users creating their own version of the product called Linux.

Linux is a free UNIX-type operating system originally created by Linus Torvalds with the assistance of developers around the world.

Thousands of corporations use Linux to run large computer networks.UNIX is a computer operating system that is the basis of IBM's AIX operating system.

Jason Hall, president of the Provo Linux users group, said Linux developers are willing to remove the 60 or 80 lines of code in question from the approximate total of 40,000 lines.

Art Moore, vice president of the Provo group, said it is not unusual for SCO to ask for its proprietary code to be removed, but keeping everything secretive and suing over the situation is unusual.

SCO will only show the lines of code to people who sign a nondisclosure agreement, which means they will no longer be allowed to work on Linux, said a bystander at the protest, Nathan Pilling, who works at a software company near the SCO building. SCO shows the code without much context so people cannot see where it came from or do their own research, he added.

"The reason they have to sign a non-disclosure is this code is confidential source code," SCO's Stowell said. "We have these confidentiality agreements with other companies. We'll show it in a court setting."

Jared Blake, another protest bystander, echoed the feelings of several people when he said SCO filed the lawsuit because it is running out of money and has no other way to receive more funding.

"I think SCO is picking the wrong fight," Pilling said. "IBM has the resources and the patents that they could bury them in paperwork."

Stowell said SCO is focusing on the IBM lawsuit and will discuss later whether it wants to receive compensation for use of its code in the future or if it wants the code removed.

Shana Helps can be reached at 344-2549 or

Copyright 2003