SCO gets first Unix licensee

An unnamed Fortune 500 company is apparently the first to sign up for a Unix intellectual property software license that The SCO Group Inc. says companies need in order to run its Linux software without legal worries.

In an announcement Monday, Lindon, Utah-based SCO said the company is the first to pay license fees to run Linux under the SCO IP License for Linux program, which was announced last week. The license costs US$699 per processor.

SCO said the terms of the deal and the identity of the Fortune 500 company are being withheld for confidentiality reasons. One license was bought for each of the servers being used by the company, but the exact number of licenses was not announced.

"We've had more than 300 companies in the first four business days of this program contact SCO to inquire about SCO's Intellectual Property License for Linux," Chris Sontag, a senior vice president and general manager of SCO's SCOsource software licensing division, said in a statement. "This Fortune 500 company recognizes the importance of paying for SCO's intellectual property that is found in Linux and can now run Linux in their environment under a legitimate license from SCO. We anticipate this being the first of many licensees that will properly compensate SCO for our intellectual property."

A spokesman for SCO could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

In March, SCO sued IBM for $1 billion as it began moving to protect what it claims are its intellectual property rights to Unix. SCO alleged in its suit that IBM illegally contributed some of SCO's Unix property to the development of Linux to the benefit of IBM and the harm of SCO. The lawsuit has since been amended with additional charges and now seeks more than US$3 billion in damages.

Last week IBM countersued SCO, charging that the company has infringed on four patents held by IBM and that it doesn't have grounds to sue companies over their use of Linux. Meanwhile, Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. filed a separate lawsuit against SCO alleging unfair competition, trade libel and other charges.

To date, many corporate Linux users have publicly said that they won't pay SCO any fees because nothing has yet been proved in any court. Other user companies remain mum about their strategies.

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