SCO war of attrition descends to farce

Source Wars, Episode 7. The intellectual property battle over who really owns what lies inside the Linux source code is primed to develop into a full-scale legal orgy, as Linux vendor Red Hat filed suit in Delaware last week alleging SCO is conducting an "unfair, untrue and deceptive campaign…to harm Red Hat's…operating system". Red Hat is demanding a jury trial, and the move immediately follows IBM's legal counter-attack on SCO.

Senior vice president and general counsel for Red Hat, Mark Webbink was staying up late and hitting phones in Australia to sell his message that SCO cannot survive the legal war of attrition on multiple fronts that broke out this week:

"Up until the filing of our lawsuit, SCO had a free ride. They retained David Boies' law firm (of Microsoft antitrust fame) on a contingency basis, by their own admission. Apart from a little out-of-pocket money, the law firm was absorbing all the cost of litigation in exchange for a substantial portion of any recovery at the end. They didn't spend anything on legal fees. They spent all their money on PR to sit out there making press release after press release.

Now they are going to have to spend real money defending themselves. They are now faced not only with [multiple claims]. Those will not be cheap to defend," Webbink claims.

Webbink also contends that there has been no tangible movement away from Linux since SCO started its campaign, although conceding that those with jittery risk analysts or lawyers may have opted to wait until the legal fog lifts.

"Companies that are interested in adopting [Linux] are moving forward with their plans and are not intimidated whatsoever by SCO. It's probably caused [those unsure about Linux] to say 'Maybe I'll examine it a little bit [before buying]."

SCO's recent disclosure to US financial market regulators at the SEC of a number of disposals and acquisitions of equity connected with the company also drew a number of allegations from Webbink, which Computerworld Australia is unable to publish due to Australian defamation law. SCO's SEC filings are available at: http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/browse-edgar?action=getcompany&CIK=0001102542&owner=include.

Additional comment of interest by Computerworld's US senior columnist Frank Hayes, published in the US, can be found here.

Recent anti-Linux apparitions at the front of SCO's HQ around the time of a pro-Linux protest could raise questions about the state of its war chest. Could SCO employees have been forced to make good with coloured pens and cardboard in a truly bizarre salvo in the battle for hearts and minds, or could this be obsessive, reverse propaganda by open source activists? One rendition of the homemade anti-penguin art features Tux wearing a (blue) helmet and issuing a Nazi-style salute to a depiction of a Torvalds glove puppet, controlled by the hand of IBM, with the slogan "Give Communism a Try Free Linux."

"Ya Vol! [sic]" snaps the penguin.

Another picture has Torvalds as a fat, barefoot, dope-smoking hippie wearing a pot leaf t-shirt bearing the slogan "Legalize stupidity, smoke Linux". SCO's attempt at counter culture has been documented by OSX developer Dave Thorup at: http://www.kuwan.net/scoAntiProtest/index.jsp.

Local representatives of SCO had not returned calls from Computerworld at publishing deadline.

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More about: CGI, Hayes, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, SEC
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