IBM Countersues SCO Group

By Bill Claybrook

August 8, 2003

Yesterday IBM filed counterclaims against SCO Group. In its suit, IBM argues that SCO software violates four IBM patents and that the company interfered with IBM’s business by saying that it had terminated IBM’s right to ship AIX. The rest of IBM’s countersuit is based on the fact that SCO (formerly Caldera International) distributed Linux for several years prior to the lawsuit — that is, SCO was distributing under General Public License (GPL) what SCO now refers to as pirated code. IBM says SCO now wants to treat code that it (knowingly distributed under GPL as proprietary.

My opinion is that this lawsuit will come to a head in the next few months. I think the killer for SCO is the fact that SCO knowingly distributed Linux code under GPL for years and was heavily involved in the Linux community under the leadership of Ransom Love (probably the leading spokesperson for Linux in the enterprise for several years). SCO itself has helped to make the code in Linux, wherever it came from, available under General Public License, removing any hope of it becoming proprietary at a later date.

Some companies, such as Microsoft, continue to talk about the scary thing called GPL. There is nothing scary about the license. The license makes it very clear what GPL means. If you subscribe to GPL and release code under it, then you make the source available to others and they can copy, modify, and distribute it —as long as you follow the intent of the license. For SCO now to come crying about another company releasing its proprietary code is pure nonsense.

10:04 ET

Copyright 2003