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SCO identifies Linux licensee signs a deal that will let it run thousands of Linux servers without facing legal consequences from SCO. Other licensees are keeping mum.

The SCO Group, which claims ownership to the Unix operating system, identified on Monday a company that has agreed to sign a license to use Linux., a Houston-based company that hosts Web sites for clients and a division of , signed a deal with SCO for running thousands of Linux servers without facing legal consequences from SCO. didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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SCO spokesman Blake Stowell declined to say how much paid but said the arrangement covered the "vast majority" of about 20,000 servers, and therefore got a high-volume discount on the $699 per single-CPU server that SCO asks.

Stowell said a "handful" of the world's 1,000 biggest companies have signed such licenses, but all have required confidentiality agreements. is the first that allowed its name to be used.

SCO asserts that the Linux operating system infringes on its Unix intellectual property, a claim at the heart of lawsuits that it has brought against Linux advocates IBM and Novell and that top Linux seller Red Hat has brought against SCO.

Lindon, Utah-based SCO has been demanding that Linux users purchase a SCO intellectual property license to use Linux.

SCO, which has retained high-profile attorney David Boies for its legal actions, has said it will sue Linux users, but it missed a mid-February deadline by which to do so.

Although it's been demanding license fees since August, SCO began selling its SCO IP license online only in February. The launch of the online sales was complicated by a denial-of-service attack that knocked the ordering site out of business, one of several such Internet attacks.

SCO announced in August that a Fortune 500 company had signed a license.

Meanwhile, the company has backed off another aggressive action. It said in September that it planned to send invoices to Linux users, but then scuttled the idea the next month.

SCO began arguing a year ago that IBM illegally moved Unix technology to Linux that it was required to keep secret; the company now seeks more than $5 billion in damages from IBM.

SCO also sued Novell, a recent Linux convert and a prior owner of the Unix technology, over Novell's assertions that it still owns Unix copyrights.

In addition, Red Hat, the leading seller of Linux, filed a suit seeking a declaration that the company didn't violate SCO's copyrights or trade secrets.