US AIX users unruffled by SCO lawsuit

Users of AIX, IBM's version of Unix, say the company's dispute with The SCO Group is having little impact on their AIX purchasing plans, despite SCO's declaration this week that merely using AIX is now an infringement of its rights.

Users of AIX, IBM's version of Unix, say the company's dispute with The SCO Group is having little impact on their AIX purchasing plans, despite SCO's declaration this week that merely using AIX is now an infringement of its rights.

SCO filed suit with IBM in March, claiming that Big Blue had destroyed the economic value of Unix by contributing work derived from SCO's Unix software to the Linux community. The Utah-based company sought over $US1 billion in damages for misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference, unfair competition and breach of contract.

SCO amended its complaint with the United States District Court in Utah this week, upping the amount of damages it was seeking to over $US3 billion. The company also announced that it had revoked IBM's Unix licence, and warned AIX customers to that they no longer had the legal right to use the software.

AIX customers in the US contacted this week, however, seemed unconcerned with the dispute.

"It's not my fight. It's IBM's fight with SCO," says Jason Katz, the CEO of PalTalk.com, an instant messaging service that uses IBM's pSeries servers running AIX to run its messaging infrastructure. "It's absolutely a non-issue," he adds.

Katz plans to purchase more servers running AIX from IBM and expects that SCO's revoking of the AIX licence is unlikely to change things. "I don't see it really impacting me either way," he says.

Another user was similarly unconcerned.

"At the end of the day, I'm not sure if people really consider what SCO says to have any merit," says Dan Raju, an AIX user with a large Pennsylvania-based retailer.

The lawsuit has had no impact on his company's AIX purchasing plans, Raju says. "I don't think anybody is making any technical decision based on that," he says.

Raju's and Katz's reactions make sense, according to a technology lawyer following the case.

"I don't think there's any reason for them to be panicking," says Jeffrey Neuburger, a partner with Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner.

"The strength of SCO's claims are questionable in the first place. Even in the unlikely event that the claims were successful, I don't think that the users would ultimately have any liability," he says.

IBM has stopped short of saying that it will indemnify customers for any liability that they might have in this dispute, but the company has made it clear that does not believe they should be concerned.

"We are going to stand by our customers in every possible way, as we have all along," an IBM spokeswoman says.

Neuberger agreed that IBM would probably protect customers from any fallout associated with the case.

"I think that IBM, as both a business matter and probably a contractual matter, would stand behind any issues that the users would experience," he says.

Just because customers are not panicking does not mean they are completely ignoring the case.

"I can see why some customers might be concerned," says Curt Finch, the CEO of AIX software vendor Journyx.

Finch is counseling his customers to wait and see what develops before making any major decisions, however.

"I would counsel them to wait until a lawsuit shows up on their doorstep and not worry about it till then," he says.

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