Worst Sequel Ever: SCO vs. IBM Reopened
“For the last several months, we have consistently stated and maintained that our System V code is in Linux. The claims SCO has are both broad and deep. These claims touch not just IBM but other vendors as well. They also touch certain industry consortia and corporate Linux end users. Our claims aren’t trivial. The violations of our intellectual property are not easily repaired. It is our intention to vigorously protect and enforce SCO’s intellectual property, System V source code and our copyrights. We’re now fully prepared to do that.”
— Former SCO CEO Darl McBride, in 2003
When the SCO Group — which for a decade waged an aggressive and ill-starred legal campaign against the Linux OS — collapsed into financial ruin last summer, it seemed that the company was finally headed for an ignominious grave. Following hard-fought but ultimately ludicrous lawsuits against both Novell and IBM, SCO careened from Chapter 11 into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, volunteering in its own filing that it had “no reasonable chance of rehabilitation.”
But evidently liquidation wasn’t enough to keep SCO dead and buried, because this past May the company filed a request to reopen its case against IBM. Now a Utah district court judge has granted it, and SCO is clambering from the grave and preparing to shamble into court after IBM once again.
Astonishing. You’d think that after all these years, SCO would be little more than a case study in why using litigation as a profit center to compensate for market losses is bad business. But no. It’s back. And once again, it’s pushing forward with its suit accusing IBM of misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, breach of contract and tortious interference. And the end game here is the same as it has always been: Squeeze millions of dollars in licensing fees from a company it claims illegally distributed portions of its proprietary Unix code with the Linux OS — code it has never really specified, despite repeated calls to do so from its defendants and the open source community.
So SCO has been given one last shot at IBM, a chief architect of its ruin. And while it’s impossible to say what will become of it, the company’s litigation record doesn’t bode well for its chances.
As Groklaw editor Pamela Jones quips in her write-up of this latest development in the case, “What SCO should really ask the court for is a Time Machine, so it can go back in time and do a better job.”