SCO Jumps The Shark - InformationWeek
Software // Enterprise Applications
06:21 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
[Best Practices] Managing Multiple Clouds
Jul 26, 2017
Putting all your eggs in one cloud basket is risky, because clouds are not immune to denials of se ...Read More>>

SCO Jumps The Shark

I'm pleased to see that a turn of phrase by my colleague Robert Preston is being picked up by the Linux user community. The SCO lawsuit has, Rob said, officially jumped the shark.

I'm pleased to see that a turn of phrase by my colleague Robert Preston is being picked up by the Linux user community. The SCO lawsuit has, Rob said, officially jumped the shark.

"Jumping the shark" is a phrase coined on a Web site about TV shows, it's a moment when a good TV show goes bad. It takes its name from an episode of "Happy Days" where Fonzie jumped over a pool of sharks on water-skis, wearing swim trunks and his trademark motorcycle jacket,

(Um, just to clarify, it was the Fonz who was on water-skis, and wearing the trunks and leathers. Not the sharks.)

I was pleased to see the phrase used in the comments section of the Weblog, as the Groklaw community discussed SCO's statement that it will on Wednesday announce a lawsuit against a major Linux customer on charges that the customer violated SCO's Unix intellectual property. SCO already has lawsuits pending with IBM, Red Hat and Novell.

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.

Here in America, SCO has been attempting to cash in on its lawsuit before winning, by selling licenses to users permitting those users to use Linux. But SCO hasn't had much luck with those sales; SCO on Monday announced the name of one company,, that picked up a license; the company is pretty much unknown and not likely to drum up much support among other users.

And that points to SCO's biggest immediate problem; the company has, quite simply, failed to convince users that it has a case. Users are shrugging off the threat of a lawsuit; in a study released Friday, IDC found revenue from Linux servers increased 63.1 percent year-over-year, with unit shipments increasing 52.5 percent.

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 threat.

So what should you, as an IT user, do? My best advice on that is the same as it was a year ago: Talk to your lawyer. My second-best advice is that you should keep a close eye on what SCO is doing, but don't change your Linux deployment plans on account of what have been, so far, empty threats. But I'm no legal expert. Talk to your lawyer.

P.S. Note this article from May, 2003: "SCO Chief Says There's No Plan To Sue Linux Users" I just think this article is interesting historically; here's SCO saying that it has no plans to do what it now says it's going to do.

(This piece appeared in the Linux Pipeline Newsletter for Tuesday, March 2, 2004. It has been edited for the web.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
[Interop ITX 2017] State Of DevOps Report
[Interop ITX 2017] State Of DevOps Report
The DevOps movement brings application development and infrastructure operations together to increase efficiency and deploy applications more quickly. But embracing DevOps means making significant cultural, organizational, and technological changes. This research report will examine how and why IT organizations are adopting DevOps methodologies, the effects on their staff and processes, and the tools they are utilizing for the best results.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
IT Strategies to Conquer the Cloud
Chances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll