SuSE Linux forced to stop distribution

An injunction against SuSE has put a hold on distributions of its operating system in Germany while negotiations continue

Linux company SuSE will have to temporarily stop distributing copies of its software in Germany, following legal action on Tuesday.

German lawyer Günter Freiherr von Gravenreuth was awarded a temporary injunction by a court in Munich (Landgericht I) against the company on Tuesday. The identity of the plaintiff is not yet known.

Christian Egle, a spokesman for Nuerenberg-based SuSE Linux, told ZDNet Germany that the injunction specifically prevents the company from distributing new copies of its SuSE Linux software. CDs already in the shops of dealers may be sold to customers, however.

Gravenreuth told ZDNet Germany that the court case focused on one program contained on the Suse Linux CDs. Neither Gravenreuth nor Egle would disclose what this program is, or who the plaintiff is. Negotiations are currently underway, and both parties hope to achieve an agreement within the next few days.

A SuSE spokesperson in the UK explained that the case, brought by a plaintiff who is believed to hold the copyright on a program called Crayon, concerns potential copyright infringement by a program called Krayon, which is bundled on the CDs. She added that the injunction will only stop distribution in Germany;

"It's business as usual in the UK" she said.

Linux, seen as the only real competition to Microsoft's Windows operating system monopoly, is distributed under the GNU Public Licence (GPL), which obliges developers to make the source code for their software freely available. However, SuSE Linux and other distributions are generally packaged with hundreds of other applications and utilities, some of which are proprietary.

Dietmar Mueller reported from Germany.

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