SCO Linux FUD returns from the dead

UPDATED with IBM's response: Believe it or not, SCO's ancient and long disproved copyright claims that Linux was copied from Unix are returning in a new lawsuit by Xinuos vs IBM and Red Hat.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

I have literally been covering SCO's legal attempts to prove that IBM illegally copied Unix's source code into Linux for over 17 years. I've written well over 500 stories on this lawsuit and its variants. I really thought it was dead, done, and buried. I was wrong. Xinuos, which bought SCO's Unix products and intellectual property (IP) in 2011, like a bad zombie movie, is now suing IBM and Red Hat "illegally Copying Xinuos' software code for its server operating systems."

For those of you who haven't been around for this epic IP lawsuit, you can get the full story with "27 eight-by-ten color glossy photographs and circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one" from Groklaw. If you'd rather not spend a couple of weeks going over the cases, here's my shortened version.

Back in 2001, SCO, a Unix company, joined forces with Caldera, a Linux company, to form what should have been a major Red Hat rival. Instead, two years later, SCO sued IBM in an all-out legal attack against Linux.

The fact that most of you don't know either company's name gives you an idea of how well that lawsuit went. 

SCO's Linux lawsuit made no sense and no one at the time gave it much of a chance of succeeding. Over time it was revealed that Microsoft had been using SCO as a sock puppet against Linux. Unfortunately for Microsoft and SCO, it soon became abundantly clear that SCO didn't have a real case against Linux and its allies.

SCO lost battle after battle. The fatal blow came in 2007 when SCO was proven to have never owned the copyrights to Unix.

So, by 2011, the only thing of value left in SCO, its Unix operating systems, was sold to UnXis. This acquisition, which puzzled most, actually made some sense. SCO's Unix products, OpenServer and Unixware, still had a small, but real market. 

At the time, UnXis now under the name, Xinuos, stated it had no interest in SCO's worthless lawsuits. In 2016, CEO Sean Snyder said, "We are not SCO. We are investors who bought the products. We did not buy the ability to pursue litigation against IBM, and we have absolutely no interest in that." 

So, what changed? The company appears to have fallen on hard times. As Snyder stated: "systems, like our FreeBSD-based OpenServer 10, have been pushed out of the market."

Officially, in his statement, Snyder now says, "While this case is about Xinuos and the theft of our intellectual property, it is also about market manipulation that has harmed consumers, competitors, the open-source community, and innovation itself."

In the complaint to the US District Court of the Virgin Islands, the company claims: 

First, IBM stole Xinuos' intellectual property and used that stolen property to build and sell a product to compete with Xinuos itself.  Second, stolen property in IBM's hand, IBM and Red Hat illegally agreed to divide the relevant market and use their growing market powers to victimize consumers, innovative competitors, and innovation itself.  Third, after IBM and Red Hat launched their conspiracy, IBM then acquired Red Hat to solidify and make permanent their scheme.

The copyright claims are almost two decades old now and have been disapproved time after time. Xinuos has expanded these copyright claims to cover IBM's Unix operating system such as AIX, as well.  Xinuo\s, however, also claims that its litigation is based on specific UnixWare and OpenServer operating systems and code that came into existence after September 19, 1995, and not the early Unix code.

IBM spokesperson Doug Shelton responded, "Xinuos's copyright allegations merely rehash the stale claims of its predecessor, whose copyrights Xinuos purchased out of bankruptcy—and have no merit. Xinuos's antitrust allegations, brought against IBM and Red Hat, the world's largest open-source company, similarly defy logic. IBM and Red Hat will aggressively defend the integrity of the open-source development process and the inherent choice, and thus competition, that open source fosters."

As for the other claims, that IBM and Red Hat split up the Unix/Linux market between them and that IBM bought Red Hat to consolidate its market share, Xinuos has offered no proof of its assertions. 

I'm so surprised. 

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