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SCO gears up to sue large Linux users

Unix supplier SCO Group is to sue one of the world's largest Linux users in the next 90 days as it steps up its campaign to force...

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Unix supplier SCO Group is to sue one of the world's largest Linux users in the next 90 days as it steps up its campaign to force users of the open source operating system to pay licence fees.

SCO also said it was paying its lawyers £600,000 and giving them SCO shares worth £4.7m to fund legal action. In March it launched a £1bn claim against IBM, which it alleged incorporated elements of SCO's Unix code into the Linux kernel.

In July SCO wrote to 1,500 of the world's largest Linux users telling them they might be liable to pay licence fees.

Gartner analyst George Weiss warned that SCO's focus on legal action could pose a threat to users of SCO Unix as well as Linux customers.

"These moves compromise SCO's mission as a software company," said Weiss. "Increasingly the legal and financial aspects of the intellectual property infringement cases will absorb the company's attention and a law firm will be in an increasingly powerful position to set the agenda for its compensation. Therefore, SCO will likely pursue claims against Linux users quickly."

Weiss said Linux users should not divulge details of software deployments to the supplier or let SCO audit their premises. He advised firms to have plans ready to migrate mission-critical Linux systems in case SCO wins a favourable judgement that results in changes to the kernel code.

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