SCO sues IBM over Unix

The SCO Group of Lindon, Utah, today announced it is suing IBM Corp. for $1 billion over intellectual property rights to the Unix operating system.

The suit, filed in a Utah state court, accuses IBM of misappropriating trade secrets, unfair competition and breach of contract. It claims that IBM has been incorporating proprietary Unix code into the open-source Linux platform, which IBM is betting on heavily as 'the world's fastest-growing operating system,' according to its Linux Web portal.

IBM is one of several companies that licensed Unix from AT&T Bell Laboratories in the 1980s. SCO acquired the ownership rights to Unix in 1995.

Over the years, SCO developed a Unix flavor that would run on Intel Corp. processors and marketed it as an enterprise OS. According to the court document, IBM and SCO began collaborating on Project Monterey, an effort to create a Unix version for the IA-64 architecture, but IBM pulled out in May 2001.

In the court filing, SCO claims that IBM improperly extracted Unix technology from AIX, its proprietary flavor of Unix, and put it into the open-source Linux.

SCO's brief said the case is not about the relative merits of proprietary vs. open source software, nor about IBM's right to develop and promote open source, 'so long as it does so without SCO's proprietary information.'

SCO Group changed its name from Caldera Systems Inc. last year. In 2000 Caldera, a Linux distributor, purchased two divisions of longtime UnixWare vendor Santa Cruz Operation Inc.

IBM spokesman Mike Fay said that the company only received a copy of the complaint on Friday morning.

'SCO never approached us to raise this complaint beforehand,' Fay said, adding that IBM will remain committed to supporting its Aix customers.

Sun Microsystems Inc., another vendor of a proprietary Unix platform, said that it has licensing rights to the Unix code base.

Sun has no licensing issues with SCO over Sun's use of Unix in its Solaris operating system, the company said in a statement.

Sun makes Solaris for its own Sparc processors as well as x86 chips. It also makes a highly secure Unix flavor called Trusted Solaris and its own Sun Linux distribution of Linux.

(Updated March 7, 2003, 5:31 p.m.)

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