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SCO says new IBM charges are shaky

SHARE SCO says new IBM charges are shaky

The SCO Group on Monday responded to International Business Machines' newly filed legal counterclaims, saying the foundation on which they are based is "shaky."

Lindon-based SCO and New York-based IBM have been locked in legal and public-relations maneuvers for months over SCO's Unix computer operating system and the freely distributed Linux operating system.

SCO believes IBM has illegally placed Unix source code into Linux and sued the computer giant in the spring. Weeks later, IBM countersued, then last Thursday added a few new counterclaims.

In the latest round of documents filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, IBM alleged that SCO infringed on IBM's copyrights by including IBM contributions to Linux in SCO's Linux products without IBM's permission.

But SCO said Monday that the new amended allegations are based on IBM's assertion that SCO has violated the General Public License, which is intended to guarantee the freedom to share and change free software and make sure the software is free for all its users. Among the GPL's other elements are that it makes sure that anyone can distribute copies of free software and charge for this service if they wish, that they receive source code or can get it if they want and that they can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs.

"In this amended complaint, IBM asserts that SCO has violated the GNU General Public License, and based on this violation has then violated certain IBM copyrights," SCO said in a statement issued Monday. "IBM, not SCO, has brought the GPL into the legal controversy between the two companies. SCO believes that the GPL — created by the Free Software Foundation to supplant current U.S. copyright laws — is a shaky foundation on which to build a legal case. By contrast, SCO continues to base its legal claims on well-settled United States contract laws and United States copyright laws."

SCO added that the GPL "has never faced a full legal test, and SCO believes that it will not stand up in court. We are confident that SCO will win the legal battle that IBM has now started over the GPL."

SCO also got in a dig about IBM's refusal to provide protection for end-users against litigation for using Linux that contains Unix code. SCO has warned more than 1,500 companies that they face potential litigation over their use of Linux unless they buy a one-time license to SCO intellectual property for use with Linux. Hewlett-Packard Co. last week said it would protect customers from SCO's intellectual property claims if their Linux software is running on HP equipment.

"By so strongly defending the controversial GPL, IBM is also defending a questionable licensing scheme through which it can avoid providing software indemnification for its customers," SCO said Monday. "We continue to urge IBM to provide legal indemnification for its Linux customers."

SCO stock fell 13 cents Monday to close at $14.16. During the past year, the price has ranged from 78 cents to $20.85. IBM stock rose 40 cents to close at $89.45. During the past year, it has ranged from $54.01 to $93.47.

E-MAIL: bwallace@desnews.com