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Red Hat Sues SCO
Monday, August 04 2003 @ 04:21 PM EDT

Here's the press release. I'm on the phone trying to get more. Meanwhile, enjoy the glow.

OK, they filed in the U.S. District Court of Delaware. They are asking for a permanent injunction. They are asking that SCO be made to stop asserting that Red Hat's Linux violates SCO's IP. They are also asking for a declaratory judgment, which you can read about here.

They are also asking for damages, triple the financial damages caused to Red Hat "for harm caused by SCO's unfair competition and false advertising...unfair and deceptive (trade) well as for violations of common law, including trade libel, unfair competition and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage."

Red Hat is setting up a legal fund to help cover legal expenses associated with infringement claims against any company "developing software under the GPL and non-profit organizations supporting the efforts of companies developing software under a GPL license":

The company also stated that it has set up a fund, the Open Source Now Fund, to defray any legal costs that may be incurred by the Linux community. It is pledging $1 million to the fund, which will help cover the legal costs of open-source developers performing work under the GPL (General Public License) and nonprofit institutions that become involved in the SCO actions.
They have put $1 million in the fund. If you want to get more information, email More details here and here

Note the url to get the pdf of the complaint [PDF] is in MathFox's unbelievably fast comment, if you are a subscriber to LWN. I'm looking for a better link for the rest of us.

Update: It's on Groklaw now, both as PDF and as text. All the Red Hat filings are here.

There is also a video interview of Red Hat's then-CEO Matthew Szulik by CNET's Dan Farber.

Update: Here, for historians, is the Red Hat press release:

Red Hat Takes Aim at Infringement Claims

Complaint launched against SCO claims, Red Hat pledges $1MM to create fund to protect Linux

SAN FRANCISCO—August 4, 2003—Red Hat, Inc. (Nasdaq:RHAT) today made two significant announcements to protect Red Hat Linux customers and the worldwide Linux industry. First, Red Hat announced that it filed a formal complaint against The SCO Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOX, "SCO"). The purpose of this complaint is to demonstrate that Red Hat's technologies do not infringe any intellectual property of SCO and to hold SCO accountable for its unfair and deceptive actions.

"We filed this complaint to stop SCO from making unsubstantiated and untrue public statements attacking Red Hat Linux and the integrity of the Open Source software development process," said Mark Webbink, General Counsel at Red Hat. "Red Hat is confident that its current and future customers will continue to realize the significant value that our Red Hat Linux platform provides without interruption."

To further protect the integrity of Open Source software and the Open Source community, Red Hat has established the Open Source Now Fund. The purpose of the fund will be to cover legal expenses associated with infringement claims brought against companies developing software under the GPL license and non-profit organizations supporting the efforts of companies developing software under a GPL license. Red Hat has pledged one million dollars to be provided as funding in this initiative. For more information please e-mail

"The collaborative process of Open Source software development which created the Linux operating system has been unjustly questioned and threatened," said Matthew Szulik, Chairman and CEO of Red Hat. "In its role as industry leader, Red Hat has a responsibility to ensure the legal rights of users are protected."

I've not included the boilerplate at the end. And here's SCO's statement responding to Red Hat, referencing a July 18, 2003 letter from Red Hat, but not providing it, but including some SCO letters back:
Statement Regarding Red Hat Lawsuit and Letters to Red Hat

LINDON, Utah, Aug 4, 2003--

The following statement is being issued by The SCO Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOX):

SCO has consistently stated that our UNIX System V source code and derivative UNIX code have been misappropriated into Linux 2.4 and 2.5 kernels. We have been showing a portion of this code since early June. SCO has not been trying to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt to end users. We have been educating end users on the risks of running an operating system that is an unauthorized derivative of UNIX. Linux includes source code that is a verbatim copy of UNIX and carries with it no warranty or indemnification. SCO's claims are true and we look forward to proving them in court.

Recent correspondence from SCO to Red Hat further explains SCO's position.

The first letter is from Bob Bench, CFO of The SCO Group, Inc., to Mark Webbink, Sr. Vice President and General Counsel of Red Hat, Inc., that SCO intended to send to Red Hat. After a conversation between Matthew Szulik and Darl McBride, Red Hat determined that SCO did not need to send this letter.

The second letter is one that was sent to Matthew Szulik today from Darl McBride after Red Hat's lawsuit was filed.

July 31, 2003

Mark Webbink, Esq.
Sr. Vice President and General Counsel
[address, fax]

Dear Mr. Webbink:

This letter is in response to yours of July 18, 2003 to Darl McBride, President and CEO of The SCO Group, Inc. ("SCO").

Before responding to your request, it is important to place your letter in context. Your letter follows on the heels of Red Hat's S-3 filing of July 7, 2003, in which your company revised its risk disclosure statement.[1] In addition, SCO is currently engaged in litigation with International Business Machines Corporation ("IBM") regarding its role in the development of the Linux operating system. At the time of your letter, we had expected the possibility of a global resolution of SCO's intellectual property claims against all Linux-related companies that would have likely included Red Hat. This effort has apparently stalled, through no fault of SCO.

Based on the posture of our litigation and your revised risk disclosures, it is unclear to us the purpose of your July 18, 2003 letter. If you desire to enter good faith discussions to address SCO's intellectual property claims against Linux, either on behalf of a wider consortium of Linux companies or solely on behalf of Red Hat, we are willing to meet with you for that purpose. In any such meeting, we will provide example after example of infringement of our intellectual property found in Linux. Of course, any such demonstration must be pursuant to an acceptable confidentiality agreement and must be intended to further good faith discussions about resolving the differences between us.

If you seek information for the purpose of informal discovery intended to benefit IBM in the pending litigation, or for the purpose of devising your own litigation plans against SCO related to Linux, we must respectfully decline your request. Therefore, please clarify in writing the purpose for your request. Thank you.


Robert Bench
Chief Financial Officer
The SCO Group, Inc.


[1] Red Hat states in the revised disclosure that it is "vulnerable to claims that [its] products infringe third-party intellectual property rights particularly because [its] products are comprised of distinct software components many of which are developed by independent parties." The revised risk disclosure continues: "[M]uch of the code in [Red Hat's] products is developed by independent parties over whom we exercise no supervision or control ... [and Red Hat's] lack of access to unpublished software patent applications, copyright registrations which fail to adequately disclose source code, and numerous issued software patents that are of dubious validity ... Claims of infringement could require us to seek to obtain licenses from third parties in order to continue offering our products, to reengineer our products, or to discontinue the sale of our products in the event reengineering could not be accomplished on a timely basis."

August 4, 2003

Matthew J. Szulik

Dear Matthew,

Attached is the letter I discussed with you during our July 31, 2003 telephone conversation. Instead of actually sending the letter, I thought it was best to telephone you and speak in person to see if we could resolve the issues between our companies short of litigation. We left the conversation with a preliminary agreement to meet and continue our discussions further.

To my surprise, I just discovered that your company filed legal action against The SCO Group earlier today. You, of course, mentioned nothing of this during our telephone conversation. I am disappointed that you were not more forthcoming about your intentions. I am also disappointed that you have chosen litigation rather than good faith discussions with SCO about the problems inherent in Linux.

Of course, we will prepare our legal response as required by your complaint. Be advised that our response will likely include counterclaims for copyright infringement and conspiracy.

I must say that your decision to file legal action does not seem conducive to the long-term survivability of Linux.

Yours truly

Darl C. McBride
President & CEO


Red Hat Sues SCO | 8 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 04 2003 @ 01:34 PM EDT
IMHO, this new lawsuit works in the anti-Linux companies(SCO/Sun/Microsoft)
favor. They are successfully dragging Linux and now profitable Linux companies
deeper and deeper into a legal morass and shifting the debate away from
technology issues towards legal ones.
Lins Zechesny

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 04 2003 @ 01:39 PM EDT
More information: Linux Weekly News has a (subscribers only) story and the text (pdf) of the complaint.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 04 2003 @ 02:12 PM EDT
To follow up on my own comment (it is hard to be faster than pj) I did a quick read of the complaint and most of it is "unfair competition" and nothing unexpected. It looks like Red Hat did its homework; the what, when and why's of the complaint are clearly stated. (pj, it's up to you to comment on the details; it is past 11 PM over here while I'm writing this. ;))

I didn't expect to see the claims "requests for declaratory judgements" with respect to copyright infringement and trade secret violation; I would have expected a "declaratory judgement" claim for a temporary restraint order against false advertising instead. (comments pj?)


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 04 2003 @ 02:48 PM EDT

I haven't read the complaint yet myself, but I've put up some info that can explain. Asking to be declared innocent of copyright infringement would block SCO from going forward with its threats against end users, or at least that is the likely intent. It's also conceivable that Red Hat was aware it was about to be sued and took the initiative. Maybe SCO is alleging that Red Hat or its employees put infringing code in. When you think you might get sued, it's to your advantage to strike first, if you feel sure you can win, because that way you get to choose the place. As in, not Utah.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 04 2003 @ 02:56 PM EDT
I wonder what numbers could be put on the damage SCO's threats have caused so far?
Chris Marshall

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 04 2003 @ 03:44 PM EDT
According to one press report it has to do with what SCO said in their July 21st
conference call. While the focus in the press may have been on the Linux
licensing scheme, Darl McBride apparently said a few things about Red Hat. style="height: 2px; width: 20%; margin-left: 0px; margin-right:

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 04 2003 @ 04:23 PM EDT
Chris, the complaint says that, for one thing, Red Hat's stock has gone down.

quatermass, I am working on a transcript of that conference call, which I attended. Meanwhile, there is an mp3 here: O-Telecon_2003-07-21.mp3


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 04 2003 @ 05:23 PM EDT
I have a pretty good idea what was said, but I look forward to the transcript

SCO have also specifically mentioned RedHat several times in their media appearances.


[ Reply to This | # ]

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