5 August 2003 Open source software supplier Red Hat has filed suit against SCO Group, accusing it of “unfair and deceptive actions” in its campaign against Linux, which SCO has claimed contains stolen Unix intellectual property.
“We filed this complaint to stop SCO from making unsubstantiated and untrue public statements attacking Red Hat Linux and the integrity of the open source software development process,” said Red Hat general counsel Mark Webbink.
At the same time, Red Hat has started the Open Source Now Fund, to help defend open source companies and developers to fight similar intellectual property actions in the future. Red Hat kicked the fund off with $1 million of its own money.
Although welcomed by users, Red Hat has been criticised for being slow to join the defence of Linux. SCO Group kicked off its legal fight against the open source community in March when it filed suit against IBM, claiming that the systems giant had misappropriated SCO’s Unix technology and used it enhance Linux.
SCO quickly widened its action to include all corporate Linux users — by demanding that they pay a licence charge to SCO or face the consequences &mdash and even threatened Linus Torvalds, the original creator of the open source operating system.
“The collaborative process of open source software development which created the Linux operating system has been unjustly questioned and threatened,” said Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik in a statement.
SCO has been widely criticised for refusing to reveal the parts of the Linux kernel that it believes infringes its copyright. This has led to claims that it is bluffing and that CEO Darl McBride is using it as a lever to try and persuade cash-rich IBM to buy it for far more than the $30 million market valuation it had before the legal action was launched.
Red Hat’s main rival SuSE believes that it and its customers should be unaffected by the claims of SCO, given the two company’s past joint development of UnitedLinux, a co-distribution of Linux based on SuSE’s successful implementation, augmented with technology from SCO, TurboLinux and Conectiva.
Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik will be giving a keynote speech to LinuxWorld in San Francisco, California this afternoon and is expected to touch on the legal row embroiling the open source community.