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SCO Group Seeks Multiparty Solution

The company says an industrywide effort may be required to satisfy its intellectual-property concerns.

As lawyers prepare to take the SCO Group's intellectual-property case against IBM to court, the company continues to talk with other technology vendors about the possibility of signing new licenses for the rights to use its Unix source code. Yet, even if others sign SCO Group licenses, and even if the IBM dispute is resolved, that won't entirely assuage SCO Group. The company is seeking a coordinated agreement involving multiple companies to remedy what it considers unauthorized use of its software.

"It will take a number of players working in concert to help solve this problem," Chris Sontag, senior VP and general manager of the company's SCOsource division, said in a recent interview. "It's not a simple solution. It has to be a systemwide solution."

It's unclear what SCO Group has in mind, but compensation and prevention of future code misuse are possibilities. "How do you prevent that from happening again?" said a SCO Group spokesman. "And how do you gain compensation for source code that has been misappropriated?"

SCO Group alleges that IBM systematically allowed its Unix code, licensed for use in IBM's AIX operating system, to be moved over to Linux, forming the basis of its suit against IBM. IBM has denied any wrongdoing.

Sontag declined to say whether SCO Group has broached the subject of a joint agreement with other companies, but he said SCO Group will publicly discuss potential solutions to its ongoing intellectual-property concerns this month. The company is expected to hold a news conference July 9.

If all else fails, Sontag said, SCO Group could hold individual businesses accountable for using Linux, though that would be a last resort. "Our hope is that it is a broad-based solution that is applicable to everyone, not on an end-user-by-end-user basis," Sontag said. "But if we need to go that route, we view it as an option."

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