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Linux's Moment of Truth: First End User Lawsuit Filed by SCO

"These suits have a very real and significant cost, even if proven unsuccessful," concedes CEO Marsh

"We make no endorsement of SCO nor do we make any admission as to their claims," said EV1's CEO Robert Marsh in a letter to customers - a statement which did not head off the inevitable knee-jerk reaction such as a call for a boycott of EV1 Servers, which has 18,000 Windows and Linux dedicated servers.

But the EV1 announcement earlier this week of the purchase of UNIX licenses from SCO is nothing compared to yesterday's copyright infringement lawsuit announcement: the first against an end user of Linux: car parts retailer AutoZone. 

AutoZone was named in the first lawsuit and SCO is seeking damages for unauthorised use of its intellectual property - specifically,  for porting its inventory/kiosk applications to Linux, with IBM's help, allegedly by using SCO shared libraries that AutoZone didn't have the rights to.

EV1's Marsh as good as admitted yesterday that the blackmail element in SCO strategy is paying off when he stressed that protecting EV1Servers customers from the high cost of legal action, successful or not, was a key factor in the decision, saying: 

"These suits have a very real and significant cost, even if proven unsuccessful."

So now it is AutoZone's turn to decide how to respond to SCO's suit, which comes two weeks after its self-imposed deadline for suing an end user of Linux. In fact SCO CEO Darl McBride, during a session on Monday at the Software 2004 conference in San Francisco, announced that his company had  two targets lined up - so AutoZone won't be alone.

While SCO spokesman Blake Stowell has admitted that the EV1 Servers licenses was negotiated at a substantial discount to the $699 per server SCO was asking, this week certainly is shaping up to be the make-or-break week for SCO. The SCO suit against AutoZone was filed in the U.S. District Court in Nevada and asks for injunctive relief and damages - to be determined in a trial.

Expert opinion is that SCO could seek statutory damages, were it win its case, in the $200 to $150,000 per infringement range.

Stand by here at LinuxWorld for some choice reactions from the Linux community! One of the first came from SysAdmin Pekka Saaru, from Finland, who says indignantly:

The case IS NOT ABOUT LINUX. It is about SCO claiming that  Autozone are using SCO SHARED LIBRARIES IN A WAY THEY'RE  NOT LICENSED TO.

Please do not write disinformation like this on your site! 
Pekka Saari

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SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

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Most Recent Comments
Matthew Cline 03/03/04 09:39:36 PM EST

See http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/pdf/ne/2004/AutoZoneFinalComplaint.pdf

Reading that, you'll see that this case is *not* about the OpenSource shared libraries; the allegations of OpenSource library misuse was made in IBM suit, not the suit that SCO is filing against AutoZone

-AIB. 03/03/04 01:09:18 PM EST

I'm still waiting for the first trade reporter to catch on:
'Unable to Intimidate Linux, SCOG Sues Its Own Customers.'

Randy Poznan 03/03/04 11:09:19 AM EST

I need to go to AutoZone and buy some auto parts or something to support them. I hope they defend themselves against sco, more free publicity for AutoZone. So in the meantime I guess I will go out of my way to buy something at AutoZone and support their choice of using linux at POS.

SCOwatcher 03/03/04 10:42:17 AM EST

SCO's lawsuit alleges: "AutoZone violated SCO's UNIX copyrights by running versions of the Linux operating system that contain code, structure, sequence and/or organization from SCO's proprietary UNIX System V code in violation of SCO's copyrights."

Paul 03/03/04 10:40:58 AM EST

This case should be a wake-up call for anyone who has actually copied SCO's shared libs.... to either replace them with the GPL's alternative, or do a true port and make a clean break away from anything remotely having to do with compatibility with OpenServer and UnixWare

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