SCO, of Orem, Utah, states that Linux infringes upon SCO's UNIX intellectual property rights, and in March filed a $1 billion suit against International Business Machines Corp., (IBM). The suit infuriated the open source community, largely responsible for Linux's success, and SCO's website was hacked with denial-of-service attacks.
Linux is distributed by IBM and hundreds of companies, which are not allowed to charge for the core software, but which may charge for modifications, services and maintenance of the Linux operating system. In European and Asian IT markets, the trend is to shop for Linux, even though Microsoft and UNIX hold majority share.
SCO claims it acquired ownership of UNIX from Novell Inc., but Novell challenges SCO's claim because they still own UNIX rights.
Both SCO and Novell support Linux. SCO offers Linux training and in 2002 released SCO Linux 4 powered by UnitedLinux. Novell is not planning to assert property rights against Linux, a free operating system currently used by nearly one quarter of corporate server computers according to International Data Corp.
SCO claims that Novell sold them the rights to enforce intellectual property rights. The documents are signed and everyone agreed to transfer rights to SCO, said Darl McBride, CEO of SCO. However, the U.S. patent office shows that Novell holds patents on UNIX.
The suit SCO waged against IBM charges theft, and breach of contract by misappropriating technology for UNIX to Linux, a claim IBM denies. On SCO's website, they report to partner with IBM, "the industry's most comprehensive lineup of solutions for Linux," in SCO's words.
UNIX was developed in the 1960s by AT&T Corp., Linux was developed in the late 1990s as an alternative operating system basically "for free," as an alternative to expensive UNIX and Microsoft products. While simple brands of Linux are free for desktop use, customization and maintenance of Linux systems maybe as expensive as competitive software programs.