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SCO packs Linux case for Japan

SCO Group CEO Darl McBride and other executives are in Japan this week to explain the company's legal battle over Linux to Asian IT leaders.

After rattling the technology industry in North America, SCO Group is taking its show on the road this week.

A company representative confirmed Monday that CEO Darl McBride and other executives were en route to Japan, where they will spend the week explaining SCO's high-stakes legal battle against Linux to leaders of information technology companies.

The Lindon, Utah-based company stunned the tech world earlier this year when it sued IBM, claiming Big Blue violated contracts governing the use of the underlying code for the Unix operating system, which SCO controls and licenses to most big tech firms. SCO claimed that source code underneath the open-source Linux operating system--of which IBM has been a major supporter--includes major segments copied from Unix. It eventually revoked IBM's license to use Unix and upped its legal claim to $3 billion.

SCO later indicated it may expand the case, sending letters to technology executives at 1,500 large companies informing them that any use of Linux software could expose them to legal liability.

While initial stages of the legal campaign have focused on IBM and a few other U.S.-based companies, many Asian-based firms have significant Linux investments and need to know about the issues, said Blake Stowell, director of corporate communications for SCO.

"I would say most of these companies...are well into a Linux strategy," he said.

McBride will try to outline SCO's position to Asian business leaders, many of whom already pay SCO to use Unix, Stowell said. "This trip is partly to explain to them our position with our current dealings with IBM," he said. "It's also to see where we're at, with them, in terms of the Unix license that many of them already have."

Gordon Haff, an analyst with research firm Illuminata, saw the overseas trip as more of a fishing expedition for SCO.

"They certainly have not given the impression of having a clear and specific and well-focused strategy, beside the fact they're just going to try lots of things around their (intellectual property) and see what sticks," Haff said. "At least at this point, they're putting out this appearance that they're going to be pests until someone pays them to go away. They want to see who else might be out there with money and look at what other pressure points they can apply."