It's been a year since SCO filed the first of those lawsuits, against IBM on
March 6, 2003. By one measure, SCO's legal action has been a ripping success,
driving the company stock price from $2.26 per share on March 5, 2003 to close
at $12.27 per share yesterday, March 1, 2004.
Early on, SCO
won support from Microsoft and from Sun Microsystems; both companies agreed
to license Unix source code from SCO. (At the time, Linux was a major threat to
Sun's own Solaris operating system - indeed, Linux was more of a threat to Sun
than it was to Microsoft, as Linux was robbing market share, not from Windows
but from low-end Unix sales. But the past year has made a big difference, and
Sun is now itself a major Linux vendor.)
That's the good news for SCO. But the rest of the news, for SCO, is all bad.
SCO has by no means demonstrated that it does, in fact, own significant
intellectual property in Linux. Linux advocates have cast significant doubts on
SCO's claims that Linux code comes from SCO-owned Unix; each time SCO cites an
example, Linux advocates make credible arguments that the code comes from other
software that SCO does not own.
SCO has yet to win a single significant court victory - indeed, it's suffered a
couple of setbacks, most notably in Germany, where the company has been
forbidden from seeking to collect payments from users, or advertising ownership
of Linux intellectual property, until it first proves its ownership in court.
SCO now says it plans to step up its legal action, filing a lawsuit on Wednesday
against a well-known Linux user. Yet I can't see any way that action will make
users take SCO seriously. At this point, SCO needs a significant win in court,
and it needs that win soon, or it'll see itself dismissed as a significant
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