Unix vendor, The SCO Group, is back on the legal offensive after a brief respite following last week's countersuit by IBM and the opening of a new legal front from Red Hat.
In a webcast during SCO's third-quarter financial conference call with analysts and journalists, SCO CEO and president, Darl McBride, said that while his company continued to take heat for suing IBM earlier this year, "industry support from partners is strengthening."
"I believe that the silent majority is actually behind SCO in this case," he said. "Others with [intellectual property] they want to protect, they are hoping that SCO is going to prevail. We've been called into the fight, and we're not backing down. We continue to gain in credibility."
General counsel for the non-profit Open Source Initiative, Lawrence Rosen, said it would likely be years before the case was decided in court.
"If IBM wins the case, then SCO is out of the game, forget it," he said. "If IBM loses and pays a whole bunch of money to SCO," then that would give SCO its sought-after compensation and essentially release any other Linux users from having to pay damages, Rosen said.
Many corporate Linux users, meanwhile, are on the sidelines waiting to decide whether to pay the licensing fees, since no court has yet ruled on SCO's claims. SCO has publicly warned companies using Linux that they could become legal targets. In March, SCO filed a $US1 billion lawsuit against IBM alleging that IBM illegally put some of SCO's protected Unix source code into the open-source Linux project. The lawsuit was later amended to include additional claims and now seeks at least $US3 billion. Recently, SCO announced that it would sell special Unix licenses for $US699 per processor to allow enterprise Linux users to use Linux legally without violating SCO's alleged intellectual property.
According to SCO's estimates, with some 2.5 million enterprise servers running Linux, there is a "very significant opportunity" for SCO to gain revenue through the licenses, McBride said.
At $US699 per CPU, that became a potential pool of revenue in the neighborhood of $US1.7 billion.
"We're cautiously optimistic," he said. "We've done a lot of models on this, and the models are pretty exciting."