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Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Well, SCO's response to the court order was underwhelming at best and Contempt of Court at's the Groklaw take on it.

In a similar vein, here's the true bitch slap amongst the recently released Novell/SCO files...


May 28, 2003

Mr. Darl McBride
President and CEO
The SCO Group
355 South 520 West
Suite 100
Lindon, Utah 84042

Re: SCO's "Letter to Linux Customers"

Dear Darl:

As you know, Novell recently announced some important Linux initiatives. These
include an upcoming NetWare version based on the Linux kernel, as well as
collaboration and resource management solutions for Linux.

Put simply, Novell is an ardent supporter of Linux and the open source
development community. This support will increase over time.

It was in this context that we recently received your "Letter to Linux
Customers." Many Novell business partners and customers apparently
received the same letter. Your letter compels a response from Novell.

As we understand the letter, SCO alleges that unnamed entities incorporated
SCO's intellectual property into Linux without its authorization. You
apparently base this allegation on a belief that these unnamed entities copied
some UNIX System V code into Linux. Beyond this limited understanding, we have
been unable to glean any further information about your allegation because of
your letter's vagueness.

In particular, the letter leaves certain critical questions unanswered. What
specific code was copied from UNIX System V? Where can we find this code in
Linux? Who copied this code? Why does this alleged copying infringe SCO's
intellectual property? By failing to address these important questions, SCO has
failed to put us on meaningful notice of any allegedly infringing Linux code,
and thus has withheld from us the ability - and removed any corresponding
obligation - to address you allegation.

As best we can determine, the vagueness about your allegation is intentional.
In response to industry demands that you be more specific, you attempt to
justify your vagueness by stating, "That's like saying, 'show us the
fingerprints on the gun so you can rub them off.'" (Wall Street Journal,
May 19, 2003) Your analogy is weak and inappropriate. Linux has existed for
over a decade, and there are plenty of copies in the marketplace with which SCO
could attempt to prove its allegation.

We are aware that you recently offered to disclose some of the alleged Linux
problems to Novell and others under a nondisclosure agreement. If your offer is
sincere, it may be a step in the right direction. But we wonder whether the
terms of the nondisclosure agreement will allow Novell and others in the Linux
community to replace any offending code. Specifically, how can we maintain the
confidentiality of the disclosure if it is to serve as the basis for modifying
an open source product such as Linux? And if we cannot use the confidential
disclosure to modify Linux, what purpose doe it serve?

In your letter, you analogize SCO's campaign against the Linux community to
that of the record industry against major corporations whose servers contained
downloaded music files. There are crucial differences between the two
campaigns. The record industry has provided specific information to back up its
allegation, which SCO steadfastly refuses to do so. In its allegation letter,
the record industry provides evidence of allegedly infringing activity that is
specific to the targeted company. This offers the company real notice of the
activity, sufficient information to evaluate the allegation, and an opportunity
to stop the activity if it determines the allegation is true. If SCO wants to
compare its actions to those of the record industry, it should follow the
example set by that industry and present specific evidence of the alleged

SCO claims it has specific evidence supporting its allegation against the Linux
community. It is time to substantiate that claim, or recant the sweeping and
unsupported allegation made in your letter. Absent such action, it will be
apparent to all that SCO's true intent is to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt
about Linux in order to extort payments from Linux distributors and users.

This true intent becomes clearer when one considers various public statements
you and other SCO personnel have made about SCO's intellectual property rights
in UNIX. SCO continues to say that it owns the UNIX System V patents, yet it
must know that it does not. A simple review of U.S. Patent Office records
reveals that Novell owns those patents.

Importantly, and contrary to SCO's assertions, SCO is not the owner of the UNIX
copyrights. Not only would a quick check of U.S. Copyright Office records
reveal this fact, but a review of the asset transfer agreement between Novell
and SCO confirms it. To Novell's knowledge, the 1995 agreement governing
SCO's purchase of UNIX from Novell does not convey to SCO the associated
copyrights. We believe it unlikely that SCO can demonstrate that it has any
ownership interest whatsoever in those copyrights. Apparently, you shave this
view, since over the last few months you have repeatedly asked Novell to
transfer the copyrights to SCO, requests that Novell has rejected. Finally, we
find it telling that SCO failed to assert a claim for copyright or patent
infringement against IBM.

SCO's actions are disrupting business relations that might otherwise form at a
critical time among partners around Linux technologies, and are depriving these
partners of important economic opportunities. We hope you understand the
potential significant legal liability SCO faces for the possible harm it is
causing to countless customers, developers and other Linux community members.
SCO's actions, if carried forward, will lead to the loss of sales and jobs,
delayed projects, cancelled financing, and a balkanized Linux community.

We, like others, are concerned about the direction of SCO's campaign. For now,
we demand that SCO either promptly state its Linux infringement allegations with
specificity or recant the accusation made in your letter. Further, we demand
that SCO retract its false and unsupported assertions of ownership in UNIX
patents and copyrights or provide us with conclusive information regarding
SCO's ownership claims. In the future, we hope SCO will adhere to standards of
strict accuracy when stating its rights in UNIX.



Jack L. Messman

Two words after that. Boo. Yah.