SCO's McBride goes on the attack

The SCO Group's president and chief executive officer, Darl McBride, has hit back at claims by some Linux advocates that the United States needed to reform its software-patent and copyright protection laws.The move comes amid long-running, multi-billion dollar legal action by SCO against IBM, Red Hat and others in an effort to protect itself against what it sees as copyright violations associated with the shifting of its proprietary Unix intellectual property into open-source Linux.

The SCO Group's president and chief executive officer, Darl McBride, has hit back at claims by some Linux advocates that the United States needed to reform its software-patent and copyright protection laws.

The move comes amid long-running, multi-billion dollar legal action by SCO against IBM, Red Hat and others in an effort to protect itself against what it sees as copyright violations associated with the shifting of its proprietary Unix intellectual property into open-source Linux.

SCO's litigation is regarded by many Linux advocates as the sharp edge of a campaign by proprietary software vendors to fight the threat posed by open source software, while SCO itself views its legal action as a legitimate defence of its intellectual property.

In an interview littered with sporting analogies, McBride told ZDNet Australia   the remarks -- including some from Linux heavyweight Red Hat -- were the equivalent of a losing team stopping a game of Australian football in the fourth quarter and asking for the rules of the code to be changed to let them back into the contest.

Red Hat chief executive Matthew Szulik told the LinuxWorld conference in the United States this week that intellectual property law should be radically reformed, with copyright holders required to disclose all copyrighted works in their entirety.

Szulik said those who wanted copyrights but did not want to reveal proprietary software should be able to get federal trade-secret protection, he said. The chief executive also said software patents required more critical scrutiny, asking "do software patents really inspire and create innovation?".

However, McBride told ZDNet Australia   after the vendor had wound up its SCO Forum 2004 in Las Vegas the sorts of changes being discussed were "not going to happen" as the legal principles behind the rules were enshrined in the US Constitution.

"I don't think a few dogmatic open source guys are going to change the constitution," McBride said.

SCO's legal action -- which kicked off last year -- expanded from a claim against Big Blue to a wide-ranging assault on Linux seeking almost US$5 billion in damages claims. Companies drawn into the legal whirlpool include Novell, Red Hat and users such as Autozone and DaimlerChrysler.

McBride also today shrugged off an Oakland County Circuit Court decision to grant most of a DaimlerChrysler motion to dismiss a case brought by SCO over certification and compliance issues associated with its use of Unix as the "equivalent of losing a pre-season football game".

McBride said SCO was "pleased" with the type of evidence his company had gathered to date in the discovery process in its central case with Blue, although SCO says is still trying to wrest some material from the computing giant. In the latest development in that case, a hearing to address two significant issues -- IBM's motion to dismiss SCO's lawsuit and SCO's motion to put on hold an IBM effort to win a declaration it's not infringing SCO copyrights -- was delayed from 4 August to 15 September.

The chief executive also said SCO had signed some Linux users for licences designed to protect them from legal action from the vendor over copyright infringement, but declined to name how many.

"We're just a simple little product company keeping our IP and stopping people doing improper things with it," McBride said.

Questioned about the vilification he and SCO had copped from the Linux and open source community, McBride was philosophical. "We have a saying in the US that if you want to start a good argument at the dinner table, you bring up religion or politics.

"Linux is a mix of religion and politics".

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