- SCO vs. IBM – The March 2003 lawsuit claims IBM devalued SCO’s version of the Unix operating system. The primary allegation is that IBM applied SCO’s intellectual property to the Linux operating system code base. The lawsuit stems from IBM’s admission of contributing AIX code to the Linux kernel. AIX is a derivative of Unix System V (SVRx) and SCO claims to have rights on SVRx. Most of SCO’s evidence was rejected by the judge in 2006.
- SCO vs. Novell – The Jan 2004 lawsuit, in response to Novell registering certain Unix copyrights, was based on SCO’s assumption that they owned Unix. Novell rejected this claim publicly and stated they never sold Unix copyrights as part of a 1995 asset purchase agreement. On August 2007, Novell was ruled as the owner of Unix and UnixWare copyrights.
- Red Hat vs. SCO – Red Hat’s August 2003 lawsuit pushed for a permanent injunction of SCO’s Linux campaign and a number of declaratory judgments that Red Hat was not in violation of SCO’s copyrights.
- SCO vs. DaimlerChrysler and SCO vs. AutoZone – These two lawsuits filed on December 2003 and March 2004 respectively alleged their use of Linux violated SCO’s copyrights.
The down hill run started for SCO Group after a federal judge ruled Novell, Inc as the owner of UNIX and UnixWare copyrights in August 2007. The stock went down steadily from $1.56 per share to a low $0.05 per share on January 18 2008. The valuation highlights the fact that none of SCO’s lawsuits are relevant as long as they do not own Unix copyrights and it is all but certain that shareholders stand to gain nothing as bankruptcy proceedings get under way. The shares went up six times to $0.30 per share following a surprise announcement about a private equity investment of up to $100M on February 13, 2008.
One of the stated objectives of the private equity plan is to see the lawsuits ‘through to their full conclusion’. Translated, the idea is for the private company to pursue a payoff from IBM, Novell, and others in return for not pursuing the legal route any further. At the right price, this may prove to be an attractive prospect for these companies. A closure to this issue would be a welcome rain to the Linux community as well. Even though Novell has stated publicly that it has no intention to pursue Unix copyrights, it needs to be ascertained that Novell as the rightful owner of the Unix copyright will not trace SCO’s steps. IBM and others may have an interest in seeing the lawsuits through to closure with SCO only if they are spared of similar lawsuits with other firms in the future. An agreement with Novell and SCO group brokered by IBM where Novell and SCO group agree to waive copyrights on Unix is the most probable outcome.