SCO eases off litigation, but Linux is still vulnerable

At The SCO Group's annual show in Las Vegas last week, CEO Darl McBride said that the company would not be suing any more customers or users of Linux under the claim that the use of Linux infringes on SCO's patents. SCO last year sued DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone - two large Linux shops. The DaimlerChrysler suit was thrown out of court for the most part last month, but the AutoZone suit is still pending.

Even with SCO easing off the gas pedal of its lawsuit machine, Linux may still be vulnerable to patent lawsuits from other software vendors, according to a recent study from an open-source risk mitigation firm.

Open Source Risk Management (OSRM), a firm that provides patent insurance and risk mitigation services for software, recently carried out a study of the Linux kernel and found that the software could conceivably infringe on up to 283 patents that have been issued to various firms. Most of the companies that own these patents are actually Linux allies, including Cisco, HP, IBM, Intel, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat and Sony. The big one that isn't is Microsoft, which holds 23 patents that could be infringed upon by Linux, according to OSRM.

Interestingly, along with the release of its study on potential Linux patent infringements, OSRM also announced a new patent insurance program for Linux-using businesses interested in obtaining legal safeguards from Linux lawsuits. OSRM claims that it costs a company on average $3 million to defend itself in a patent lawsuit.

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