RealTime IT News

SCO to Europe: Please Pay for Linux

As its contract dispute against IBM regarding code in Linux winds its way through the legal process, SCO Group is laying the groundwork for collecting license fees from Linux users in European companies.

The company's new licensing plan announced this week targets small-to-medium sized businesses and large corporations in European countries that are using the Linux open source operating system.

SCO said its IP License is priced at $699 per server processor and $199 per desktop processor.

The maneuver is the Linden, Utah-based company's latest tactic to assert copyright over parts of the free operating system that it claims came from parts of the UNIX operating system code it claims to own. When it filed its now-$3 billion suit against IBM back in March 2003, SCO claimed that Big Blue let SCO's copyrighted UNIX code slip into the open source operating system. The case is expected to go to trial by 2005. In the meantime, SCO said it wants Linux users to pay up anyway.

SCO said its license grants end-users permission to use its intellectual property "in binary form only, as contained in Linux distributions," SCO said. "By purchasing the license, customers are properly compensating SCO for the UNIX source code, derivative UNIX code and other UNIX-related intellectual property and copyrights owned by SCO as it is currently found in Linux."

Right now, the arrangement is to roll the licensing plan out to companies in the U.K., France and Italy, with other European countries to follow by Feb. 1, Blake Stowell, SCO Group's spokesman told internetnews.com.

The company has sent similar offers out to U.S. based companies within the Fortune 1000 that use Linux, asserting that it is due licensing fees for code in the operating system. In November, SCO Group also served notice that it intends to expand its dispute and sue U.S.-based end-users of the Linux operating system -- if users don't pay license fees.

Whether European companies would be willing to pay up when the question of whether SCO's copyrights were infringed by Linux has yet to be decided in court remains the question.

Still, the latest licensing effort at least reflects the company's pursuit of its case by also preparing to target Linux users, including U.S.-based companies that also have major operations in European countries.

Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager of SCOsource, the intellectual property licensing and protection division of The SCO Group, repeated the company's assertion that it wants to be fair to customers -- even though it asserts several problem areas at issue within Linux.

"We believe the SCO IP License helps customers satisfy the legal requirements to continue using SCO's UNIX intellectual property in Linux in a forthright way while properly compensating the company for use of its property."