SCO sues Linux users DaimlerChrysler, AutoZone

FRAMINGHAM (03/03/2004) - After months of threats, The SCO Group Inc. on Tuesday put teeth into its claim that Linux illegally contains portions of its Unix source code and filed infringement lawsuits against DaimlerChrysler AG and AutoZone Inc.

The lawsuits expand SCO's legal war, which began early last year with a US$1 billion lawsuit against IBM Corp. That case has escalated into a $5 billion copyright infringement claim that SCO is leveling against IBM. Shortly after suing IBM, SCO turned its attention to Linux end users, saying in May that it had uncovered "significant code issues" within Linux. It sent letters to more than 1,500 commercial Linux users, saying they could be legally liable for intellectual property violations that SCO claims are in Linux source code.

SCO is seeking for DaimlerChrysler to certify that it hasn't violated the requirements of its Unix software agreement by using Unix code in Linux. DaimlerChrysler uses Linux in a cluster of computers to test crash dummies.

The suit against auto parts retailer AutoZone focuses on Unix code in Linux. AutoZone has deployed Red Hat Linux in 3,000 intranet terminals in stores nationwide. Both suits seek injunctions and damages.

In July, SCO launched a licensing program that it offered to organizations as a means of protecting themselves against legal liability. The SCO license was made available to all companies worldwide in January. SCO claims that a handful of Fortune 1000 companies and a handful of small and midsize businesses have purchased the licenses. Earlier this week, the company named hosting provider EV1Servers.Net in Houston as one of those licensees. EV1Servers.Net provides managed Web hosting services on FreeBSD.

But for the most part, end users seem unfazed by the SCO legal action. Analysts say SCO's latest legal salvo will do little to help its case, which still must be proved in court.

"It really drives a nail in the coffin of long-term, independent viability for SCO," says William Hurley, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Application Group. "Suing your customers is not a good way to go about engendering good customer relations and showing your entire customer base that you have a long-term commitment to them... There are some reasonable doubts that can be raised regarding the efficacy of SCO's claims, and over the long term, even in the near term, I don't think this will slow the adoption of Linux or the development of the Linux kernel."

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