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Lindows tries to stay above SCO fray

The company, which makes a consumer-friendly version of the Linux operating system, seeks to distance itself from the legal tumult over Linux.

Lindows.com on Thursday sought to distance itself from the legal tumult that SCO Group has set in motion over the Linux operating system.

The San Diego-based company, which makes a consumer-friendly version of Linux, said that it had "fielded some questions" about the implications for the LindowsOS in light of SCO's recent actions and that there were no issues between SCO and Lindows.

SCO has filed a $1 billion lawsuit alleging that IBM misappropriated its Unix trade secrets and separately has made a broader claim that its Unix code was illegally copied directly into Linux. SCO also has sent warning letters to about 1,500 of the world's largest corporations, saying that they could be held liable for using Linux.

Earlier this month, SCO withdrew its own Linux product, saying that it generated little business toward its bottom line.

Lindows said that in 2001, Lindon, Utah-based SCO had agreed to provide technology to Lindows and that the contract remains in effect.

"We're in a unique situation because of our pre-existing relationship with SCO," Michael Robertson, Lindows' chief executive, said in a statement. "Businesses, educational institutions and home users of LindowsOS can be confident they will not be dragged into a legal battle."

Still, much remains up in the air about the ultimate outcome and the ripple effects of SCO's legal campaign. The company earlier this year hired high-profile lawyer David Boies to investigate companies that had signed agreements to see proprietary SCO source code but whose programmers went on to work on different projects that might somehow have appropriated the proprietary code.

A spokesman for SCO said that he had to check on Lindows' claim before he could comment.

A Lindows spokeswoman said the company would not comment on the specifics of its agreement with SCO, such as what technology SCO had provided. "I can tell you that two years ago Lindows.com did part with a significant amount of money to secure the agreement," said Cheryl Schwarzman.

Lindows said that it is not a party to the legal disagreement between SCO, IBM and other technology companies. Novell, which owns rights to some parts of the Unix operating system, on Wednesday challenged the legal basis of actions that SCO is taking against Linux and companies using it.

"Until more facts are presented, Lindows.com will not take a position as to the validity of the claims presented by either side," Lindows said in a statement.