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SCO to Pull SGI's Unix License

SCO to Pull SGI's Unix License

For the last six weeks SGI has been sitting on what it describes as a terse four-page notice of termination with 60 days grace that it got from the SCO Group's CEO Darl McBride saying that SCO was going to pull SGI's Unix license to Irix on October 14 unless... SGI said it didn't want to tell anybody about the termination notice until it filed its 10-K on Monday otherwise it would have had to put out an 8-K. SGI also said that it's trying to find out from SCO what exactly the "unless" is since the notice doesn't tell it what it has to do to correct what SCO claims is SGI's breach of contract, the same charge SCO made against IBM, and that's because SCO, as evidenced by its letter, SCO basically feels that SGI can't cure its breaches. SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said, "It would be like trying to put the bullet back in the gun after it's been fired." Bear in mind that SCO has already terminated IBM's AIX license and the Dynix license of Sequent, now an IBM property. Of course SCO is suing IBM for $3 billion on account of its alleged breach of contract and considering SGI's devastating fall from heaven, SCO has little hope of making much money off of it, SGI says. Anyway, its spokeswoman Marty Colman claims that SCO's machinations with respect to SGI are really directed at IBM and its bank account. SGI is effectively just a proxy, she said. Colman said SGI is in discussions with SCO "trying to understand its issues" and wants to impress on SCO the fact that SGI thinks its claims are baseless and that it has no reason to pull its Unix license. Colman says that if SCO goes ahead and pulls the license SGI is going to behave like IBM and ignore it. "We're not going to stop shipping," she said. The SGI 10-K calls its Irix license "non-terminable," which is close to IBM's line about its AIX license being "perpetual and irrevocable." The 10-K - and 10-Ks always have to reflect the worst- case scenarios - adds that the situation may degenerate into litigation and that SCO's claims may ultimately be upheld and "impair the market acceptance of Linux." It may be right, not just crying wolf. SGI is especially anxious to dissuade SCO that the Extended File System (XFS) is a derivative work of SVR4. Colman says "It's SGI's work and SGI holds a copyright on it." SCO has said it wants XFS out of Linux. SGI claims that it can license the stuff to whomever it pleases and that its "Unix license clearly provides that SGI retains ownership and all rights as to all code that was not part of AT&Ts UNIX System V." SGI mentions kind of in passing that it bought its Unix license out in full back in the days when Novell owned Unix, hoping that that's going to make a difference in SCO's IP rights. According to Colman, SGI only knows from what it read in the papers about SCO's claims that SGI took Unix code, changed the copyright to its own and plopped it into Linux.

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Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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David 10/04/03 12:00:05 PM EDT

I was surprised to learn that SGI even matters anymore. They once had a nice game, but they've been so mismanaged as they moved away from the strength in graphics systems into the mainstream of Unix providers.

But SCO is learning the hard way that Unix is made up of multiple parties' copyright works and that all Unix code doesn't have a SCO copyright. They have the right to distribute it and call it Unix (there is a reason why we have Solaris, Irix, AIX, BSD and HP-UX as the major players, none using the Unix name directly), but they don't own much of the underlying IP. Therefore, is SGI wrote the code and owns the copyright, they certainly can do with as they please. SCO is looking weaker every day.

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