SCO's Linux wars heat up as AU claims 'vilification'

The brawl between the SCO Group and critics of its intellectual property claims on the Linux open source software is heating up, both in Australia and overseas.Executives from SCO's US headquarters said they planned to file a lawsuit on Tuesday in the US against a large commercial user of Linux, while the company's Australian boss labelled some of the open source community's comments about the vendor as "vilification".

The brawl between the SCO Group and critics of its intellectual property claims on the Linux open source software is heating up, both in Australia and overseas.

Executives from SCO's US headquarters said they planned to file a lawsuit on Tuesday in the US against a large commercial user of Linux, while the company's Australian boss labelled some of the open source community's comments about the vendor as "vilification".

The moves come as the SCO Group steps up its campaign to secure compensation for alleged improper use in Linux of what it claims to be its Unix intellectual property. SCO's moves include a campaign to sell licences to large commercial users of the open source software which, the vendor claims, will protect them from its legal actions.

Kieran O'Shaughnessy, the company's Australian and New Zealand head, told ZDNet Australia   today he had decided not to make any formal announcements about licence sales in the region as, given the "vilification SCO has received over its stance on its intellectual property claims," companies who did participate may "not want to put their heads over the ramparts".

Asked whether he had considered legal action over those comments, O'Shaughnessy said he had not considered such a move. However, he indicated it may be an option should such comments continue.

"I feel that many of the comments that have been made in publications, print media, online and in press releases... have been factually incorrect," he said.

O'Shaughnessy's comments came as the company's chief executive, Darl McBride, said the vendor planned to file a lawsuit on Tuesday in the US against a large company using Linux.

Speaking at the Software 2004 conference, McBride declined to identify the company, beyond saying it had a recognised name.

SCO threatened in November to sue Linux users, although it missed a self-imposed mid-February deadline.

"We missed by a couple weeks. The first one won't show up until tomorrow," McBride said. After his speech he said the company has two potential targets.

The first target will be a company that has a Unix licence from SCO already, giving SCO some contractual leverage in the case. McBride said. In addition, the suit will involve copyright infringement claims.

"We've been in communication with them" about the licence issue, McBride said. "Now it's time to move to the litigation part of the enforcement".

O'Shaughnessy described the US effort to ZDNet Australia   as the "spearhead of a global effort" and indicated it would focus the minds of large commercial users of Linux in Australia who may be considering their position on the SCO Group's intellectual property claims involving the open source software.

He said while he did not consider legal action as "inevitable" in Australia, he did describe it as "entirely possible".

"It will depend on how local commercial users of Linux respond to discussions we have with them," he said.

"I would like to avoid any legal [action]," he added. "But if we can't, I'm fully prepared to do that".