A story at Linux Business Week, originally published by Client Server News, raised a ruckus in the Linux community. SCO, it said, had drafted a press release that detailed plans to cash in on its Unix patents, either by charging an extra license fee to users of its Linux distribution, or by "pressing infringement claims" against other Linux distributions, possibly even to fellow members of the UnitedLinux tribe.
The story also said SCO had engaged high-profile attorney David Boies to handle its Linux intellectual property claims.
SCO has released a statement disputing the claims in the story, but confirming that it does have significant asset claims in Unix IP and it is discussing "possible strategies."
Not many people put stock in the claims of this story; Free Software Foundation (FSF) executive vp Bradley Kuhn says that until his GPL-defending organization sees the claim, "it's not that important to us."
A Red Hat spokesperson had no comment, saying the company believes the SCO story is a rumor.
David Boies secretary was adamant in her assertion that neither Boies nor any other attorney at Boies, Schiller, and Flexner was currently performing duties as "IP advisor" for SCO, as the Client Server News article states.
The tone of the statement is one of righteous indignation, however, the final paragraph seems to hint that there may indeed have been an internal document of some kind floating around. See what you think.
Following is the entire SCO statement released the morning of January 13, 2003:
SCO statement on Client Server News story
On January 10, 2003 Client Server News published a story concerning SCO and its UNIX intellectual property. This article states as fact speculations about what SCO may do or not do with regard to its ownership of core UNIX IP.
Darl McBride, president and CEO of SCO, has discussed SCO’s UNIX IP ownership in many public venues and on the most recent quarterly investors’ conference call. SCO has significant UNIX intellectual property dating back to the company’s purchase of AT&T’s Bell Labs UNIX technology. Our UNIX IP is a significant asset and for several months we have been holding internal discussions, exploring a wide range of possible strategies concerning this asset. We’ve reached no final decisions on any course of action.
SCO is a Linux vendor and a leading member of United Linux. Contrary to the claims in the Client Server News article, SCO has no desire to take legal action against fellow Linux vendors. As a normal part of business, SCO has had discussions with several legal experts in the field of intellectual property law, and these discussions included David Boies. Contrary to the claims in the Client Server News story, SCO has not engaged Mr. Boies to take legal action against our fellow Linux vendors.
It's unfortunate when a publication runs a headline, stating as fact in the present tense that our company is engaging in certain activities when, in fact, we’ve made no decisions, formed no programs and announced nothing about this.