Lawyers have urged Hewlett-Packard’s Linux customers to make the supplier’s offer to indemnify them against any legal action by SCO legally binding.
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SCO has claimed its copyright was infringed in the creation of the open source operating system and has threatened to take legal action against users of Linux systems containing the disputed code.
Last week HP said, “HP will offer Linux customers indemnification from lawsuits relating to SCO and alleged copyright and other intellectual property infringements within Linux. HP will bear the potential legal responsibility for those customers that implement Linux on HP’s platforms.”
But Chris Holder, a partner at law firm Barlow, Lyde & Gilbert, said users needed to ensure promises of indemnity were put into contracts.
“Just saying we will indemnify against something does not provide users with any protection,” he said. “To get the benefit, you need to have signed an agreement with the supplier. It should be in any contracts that are signed by new customers, and if HP does backdate the indemnity, it should be written into existing contracts.”
SCO has filed a £3bn lawsuit in which it alleged that IBM illegally contributed SCO-owned Unix code to Linux. Commenting on HP’s offer to indemnify users, IBM said, “HP’s announcement and those of Red Hat, government agencies around the world, and others, appear to flow from the belief that SCO’s claims against Linux are baseless. We agree. IBM’s position has not changed. We will fight this in court.”