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SCO, Red Hat make legal Linux news

It's come to this: The guys wandering the show floor with the "SCO Sucks" T-shirt held up like a protest sign seemed to speak for the majority of attendees and exhibitors at this year's show. Unix vendor The SCO Group claims ownership of key elements of the Unix operating system, and has charged IBM with misappropriation of Unix elements in its contributions to Linux. The firm has also sent formal letters to large corporations warning their IT depts. that SCO intellectual property had been placed in peril in some Linux implementations.

Last week, SCO disclosed terms of its Linux Intellectual Property (IP) license. For an introductory rate of $699 for a single CPU system, users can purchase a license and "avoid infringement." The offer is good through Oct. 15, 2003.

Perhaps the biggest news on the SCO counterfront was Red Hat's announcement that it was counter-suing the firm. The Linux 'distro' said that it has filed a formal complaint against SCO to "demonstrate that Red Hat's technologies do not infringe any intellectual property of SCO."

"We filed this complaint to stop SCO from making unsubstantiated and untrue public statements attacking Red Hat Linux and the integrity of the open-source software development process," said Mark Webbink, general counsel at Red Hat.

At the same time, Red Hat has established a fund to cover legal expenses associated with infringement claims brought against companies developing software under the GPL license. Red Hat pledged $1 million as funding for this initiative.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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