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SCO set to take SGI's Unix licence away

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SGI is set to join IBM on SCO's bad list of intellectual property miscreants.

In a recent SEC filing, SGI revealed that SCO has threatened to terminate the company's Unix licence due to a breach of contract. The claim mirrors that of one handed to IBM by SCO that the vendor has illegally thrown bits of Unix code into Linux without permission. Come 14 October, SCO plans to revoke SGI's Unix licence, looking to disrupt the vendor's Irix sales.

"We believe that the SCO Group's allegations are without merit and that our fully paid licence is nonterminable," SGI said in the filing. "Nonetheless, there can be no assurance that this dispute with SCO Group will not escalate into litigation, which could have a material adverse effect on SGI, or that SCO Group's intellectual property claims will not impair the market acceptance of the Linux operating system."

Fear not, Linux fans. The last bits of this statement are standard lawyer-speak required of an SEC filing. SGI must lay out the worst possible scenario even if it, like many, thinks that SCO has long since checked its sanity at the door.

Like IBM, SGI will continue shipping Irix kit until a judge says otherwise.

With both IBM and SGI taken care of, SCO's major legal obligations have reached their end. Sun Microsystems paid SCO millions for rather broad Unix IP rights, and HP appears to have secured some kind of middle ground with the IP crusader. HP is offering Linux customers legal help against SCO, but also supporting SCO's Unix business at the same time. Dell may make a contribution to Linux here and there, but it's doubtful that SCO would turn its attention to Round Rock.

As this saga continues, the witty barbs dolled out by various parties are becoming increasingly blase. How long will these vendors be able to demean in each other in public and still stomach their actions?

SCO's threats make the Linux user community scoff, and seem to amuse the targets of its legal attacks as well. This places all the pressure on the IP protectorate in Utah to stand up and alter the situation in one way or another.

Who can stand two, three or four more years of this posturing? ®

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