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Retail trade group calls SCO's claims baseless

The National Retail Federation has weighed in against the SCO Group's assertions that Linux users are violating its Unix copyrights.

The SCO Group's legal action against Linux is unfounded, the National Retail Federation told members Wednesday, a new blow to the company's litigation strategy.

"Based on the information we have seen, the National Retail Federation believes the claims by the SCO Group are without merit," NRF Chief Information Officer Dave Hogan said in a statement. "NRF expects that retailers who use Linux will survive the current litigation."

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SCO sued AutoZone in March, alleging that the retailer's use of Linux violated SCO's Unix copyrights. AutoZone has sought to put the case on hold until there are results from SCO's lawsuits against Linux backer IBM, Linux seller Red Hat and earlier Unix owner Novell.

Novell's actions raise "serious questions regarding whether the SCO Group ever gained legal ownership to Unix System V," the retail group said, adding that SCO still hasn't specified which parts of Unix System V have been copied into Linux.

The NRF decided to issue a statement after SCO moved from "saber-rattling" to the legal offensive against AutoZone, Hogan said in an interview. In addition, about 20 to 25 of the NRF's CIO council received threatening letters from SCO, he said.

SCO--whose Unix products have been popular among retailers--argues that companies must pay for a SCO intellectual property license or risk legal action. But SCO's legal battles are opposed by many top technology companies and by open-source advocates.

And in another challenge to the Lindon, Utah, company, investor BayStar Capital wants its $20 million back.

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell declined to comment on the federation's position.

The NRF has more than 1,000 members and represents department stores, Internet retailers, catalog companies and other stores. It also is an umbrella organization that represents more than 100 state and national retail organizations.