SCO's Darl McBride defends Linux fight

The 8-month-old legal fight between Unix vendor The SCO Group and IBM has become more testy lately, with subpoenas sent to witnesses on both sides seeking testimony. One month ago, IBM senior vice president and group executive Steve Mills said in an interview with Computerworld that SCO filed its US$2 billion lawsuit against IBM without any warning.

But during an interview Monday in Las Vegas at the CD Expo IT show, keynote speaker Darl McBride, CEO and president of Lindon, Utah-based SCO, said his company gave IBM plenty of warning as early as last December about SCO's belief that IBM illegally included some of SCO's Unix System V technology into the Linux open-source project.

Here's what McBride had to say about the legal fight:

Q: What's the status of your company's lawsuit against IBM?

We're getting into the core of the case, and if we get into a Utah courtroom, we like our chances more and more. We have a very strong resolve on this.

Q: In August, at your SCO Forum 2003 user and vendor conference, you told the audience that SCO tried to approach IBM about its concerns that IBM had allegedly contributed System V code to Linux, but was rebuffed. What's your reaction to Steve Mills' recent comments that SCO sued without any warning?

It's total misinformation, otherwise known as a lie. I personally talked to the head guy at IBM for Linux, Steve Solazzo, on Dec. 9 and told him that we had a problem with our intellectual property showing up (without permission) in Linux. I told him that we were implementing a licensing program to fix it. His reaction was, "If that's what you want to do."

So instead of announcing the licensing program two days later, we shut it down and agreed to talk with IBM's people and hold off on the announcement. When they say they never talked to us, it makes me laugh.

Q: What happened next?

So we sat down in early January with IBM for three or four more discussions. There was nothing. They had no idea that we would be suing. They viewed us as a little company, as a gnat buzzing around.

Then in late January, at LinuxWorld in New York, SCO unveiled its Unix licensing for Linux proposal and announced the creation of its SCOsource division to protect the company's intellectual property as well as the hiring of attorney David Boies to lead the case against IBM. Did IBM know any of that was coming? There is no doubt in my mind all the way back in December that they knew we had retained Boies.

Q: Another IT industry executive, Chris Stone, vice chairman of Novell Inc., which is acquiring SUSE Linux, told Computerworld two weeks ago that the SCO lawsuit against IBM doesn't worry them at all. He even called SCO's claims "unsubstantiated" and said Novell doesn't think its acquisition of SUSE is risky. Your reaction?

We went down this path (when SCO had its own Linux strategy) and jumped on the cool new Linux deal. But it's a path for going out of business. I can understand why the hardware companies want it because they can then sell hardware.

This is really the beginning of the death for SUSE. They ran out of money last month, and everybody knew they were shopping themselves around. They were on the IBM heart-lung machine.

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