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CA Blasts SCO for Linux License Claim

Software giant Computer Associates is refuting reports that it is among a handful of companies that have agreed to buy a license to run Linux from SCO Group, which has sued companies that have refused the license on the basis of its claims to owning certain source code used in Linux.

SCO backpedaled from confirmations last week that CA was among the takers in its SCOsource program, which offers Linux users a per-CPU license or licensing for multiple CPUs, desktops and embedded systems.

Legal and industry analysts have denounced the licensing offer from SCO as a tactic to generate revenue from intellectual-property claims that are in serious dispute. The subsequent lawsuits and licenses revolve around a central contract and copyright case SCO brought against IBM last year. Nevertheless, Utah-based SCO — derided by the open-source community — has managed to sell the license to at least a few companies, with Houston-based hosting company EV1 Servers.Net being the first. SCO said it plans to keep selling the licenses.

Computer Associates, however, stressed it is not among those companies that have purchased licenses; in fact, CA strongly criticized SCO’s strategy.

“CA disagrees with SCO’s tactics, which are intended to intimidate and threaten customers,” Computer Associates said in a statement. “CA’s license for Linux technology is part of a larger settlement with the Canopy Group. It has nothing to do with SCO’s strategy of intimidation.”

Licensee Label

Computer Associates, describing itself as “a staunch supporter of the open-source community since Linux’s infancy,” said its SCO UnixWare licenses arose from a settlement between itself and Canopy Group, which is the largest SCO stakeholder.

CA agreed to a SCOsource license last year as part of the settlement, but confirmations from SCO officials — and a court-required letter in the IBM case — indicate CA is among six licensees that have signed on to SCO’s per-CPU Linux license.

SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell said the letter — now available online via sites such as Groklaw.net — is accurate, but he blamed IBM attorneys for disclosing its contents.

“That letter was sent to IBM’s lawyers and is something which we believe IBM lawyers made public,” Stowell told LinuxInsider, adding that SCO is trying to hold to the confidentiality terms of the Canopy settlement.

Support for Lost Cause

CA, however, blasted SCO for disclosing information about the settlement more than once and for holding Computer Associates up as a licensee and implied supporter of SCO’s Linux license.

“SCO is grasping at straws to purport CA as a SCO supporter,” said CA Linux senior vice president and chief architect Sam Greenblatt. “They have done so by repeatedly breaching a confidential settlement in order to use CA’s name as one of the largest software companies in the world to build support for its lost cause.”

CA, which came under fire after its reported license deal for Linux from SCO, also drew a definite contrast between its own business strategy and SCO’s tactics.

“CA stands in stark disagreement with SCO’s tactics, which are intended to intimidate and threaten consumers,” Greenblatt added.

Sue, License, Sue

Indeed, legal experts such as Finnegan-Henderson partner Jeff Berkowitz have indicated SCO has little choice but to sue Linux and other users — SCO launched Linux-based legal assaults on AutoZone and DaimlerChrysler last week — to put pressure on and encourage licensees.

Stowell said that in addition to EV1 Servers.Net, SCO has secured Linux licensing deals with “a handful” of other companies and expects many more.

Berkowitz told LinuxInsider that there is no compelling reason for companies to purchase the license from SCO, which has been challenged on its claims to Linux code.

As for the suits against AutoZone and DaimlerChrysler, software legal expert and Townsend and Townsend and Crew partner Phil Albert told LinuxInsider that SCO stands little to gain from the suits but had to make good on its threats to bring them.

“It’s a different kind of case, which means they’re going to have to spend more money,” Albert said. “They’re definitely not going to make back what they spend on recovering from AutoZone.”

They really didn’t have a choice, Albert added. “They promised they would [sue] and were going nowhere with IBM. They have to follow through on their threats, however unsuccessful they may prove to be.”

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