5 May 2003 SCO Group, owner of the intellectual property of the Unix operating system, has upped the ante in its billion-dollar lawsuit against IBM, which alleges that IBM misappropriated its technology and used it to enhance the open source operating system Linux.
According to SCO Group CEO, Darl McBride, an investigation of the source code of Linux, carried out as part of an evidence gathering exercise for the case, has revealed that whole lines from Unix’s source code have been copied into the heart of Linux.
SCO has not yet revealed the location or nature of those lines, nor has it said if IBM is responsible for that copying.
The copyright infringement allegations have, understandably, caused consternation — and annoyance — within the open source community. Bruce Perens, the former leader of the Debian distribution of Linux, was one of many who dismissed SCO’s allegation, saying that it was merely an attempt to foster fear, uncertainty and doubt about Linux.
However, if the claim is upheld in court it could open the door for SCO to sue a broad range of open source companies, including Red Hat and SuSE, vendors of the two most popular distributions of Linux.
IBM, meanwhile, has issued its response to SCO Group’s charges, denying any wrongdoing. In its 18-page filing to the US District Court in Utah, IBM not only said that SCO’s charges were unfounded, but also accused the company of trying to slow the work of the open-source community.