Another New Twist for SCO versus IBM
SCO Group Inc’s ongoing legal battle against IBM Corp could be set for yet another twist after SCO claimed to have uncovered new evidence that IBM breached a license agreement in the development of its AIX 5L version of Unix.
A source close to Lindon, Utah-based SCO has confirmed to ComputerWire that SCO believes AIX 5L contains Unix System V code for which IBM does not have a license and that SCO has internal IBM e-mails confirming that IBM is aware of this.
The source added that SCO is considering filing a new complaint or amending its current breach of contract complaint against IBM based on the e-mails but declined to elaborate on their content. A new filing is expected in the near future.
The claim is a new twist in the ongoing legal battle between IBM and SCO, which last year claimed that IBM has breached a contract between the two companies by contributing Unix code to the Linux operating system.
The latest claim concerns a deal IBM struck with the former Santa Cruz Operation Inc in 1998 to develop a new version of Unix for Intel Corp’s 64-bit Itanium processors under Project Monterey. IBM’s AIX 5L is the only operating system to have been made commercially available from that project but runs on IBM’s own Power processor line.
It is understood that SCO’s biggest issue with the Monterey Project is that it never produced the product it was designed for, while IBM has benefited with AIX 5L.
Santa Cruz Operation sold its Unix software and services businesses to Caldera Systems Inc in 2001, shortly before IBM told it in May that it deemed the Monterey project dead, according to SCO’s original court filing against IBM. Caldera later renamed itself SCO Group while Santa Cruz Operation became Tarantella Inc.
SCO is now claiming that the Monterey deal only gave IBM access to Unix System V Release 4 code for Intel-based processors, and that the SVR4 code was instead used to build AIX 5L.
This assessment appears to contradict the terms of the agreement originally announced between Santa Cruz Operation and IBM, however. A press release from October 1998 announcing the strategic alliance between the two companies, stated: The result will be a single product line that will run on IA-32, IA-64 and IBM microprocessor systems.
A later Santa Cruz Operation white paper for UnixWare 7, now only available via Google cache, but originally on Caldera’s web site, described the goal of Project Monterey as delivering a single Unix system consisting of: UnixWare for the Intel IA-32 bit architecture, AIX operating system for the IBM Power architecture, [and] Monterey/64 for the new Intel IA-64 bit architecture.
While legal agreements contain a lot more fine print than press releases and white papers, the Joint Development Agreement between Santa Cruz Operation and IBM also indicates a contradiction. The agreement makes no mention of Unix System V Release 4 and gives broad licensing rights to each party for the other’s code and project work.
With specific reference to Santa Cruz Operation’s code licensed to IBM, the agreement granted to IBM a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty free, perpetual and irrevocable license to SCO’s code a project work to prepare derivative works and sublicense and distribute SCO’s code.
The agreement also granted Santa Cruz Operation and IBM the right to sublicense the IA-64 product to create derivative works for maintenance and support, translation and localization, and porting, optimization and extensions.
While the agreement appears to contradict SCO’s current claims, the company believes that IBM’s termination of the agreement validates its position that when the agreement is read alongside the IBM e-mails in its possession the reason for that will become clear.