SCO pulls second IBM Unix license

The company terminates a second IBM Unix license, the one that covers the discontinued Dynix/ptx operating system IBM obtained through its 1999 acquisition of Sequent.

Matt Hines Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Matt Hines
covers business software, with a particular focus on enterprise applications.
Matt Hines
2 min read
SCO Group on Wednesday said it terminated a second IBM Unix System V license, the one that covers the discontinued Dynix/ptx operating system IBM obtained through its acquisition of Sequent several years ago.

SCO, owner of several key copyrights related to the Unix operating system, has been aggressively defending its intellectual property holdings connected to the software and filed a $3 billion lawsuit against IBM earlier this year. The suit claims that IBM has committed trade secret theft and breach of contract for allegedly copying proprietary Unix source code into its Linux-based products.

The company reported that it terminated Sequent's Unix contract for improper transfer of source code and development methods into Linux. Based on the move, SCO claims that IBM no longer has the right to use or license Dynix/ptx and said that customers should not be able to acquire a license for the software.

IBM again denied that SCO's actions had merit. "SCO has not shown us any evidence that we violated our agreements," spokeswoman Trink Guarino said. "IBM withdrew Dynix/ptx and the associated hardware long before the suit was filed. This seems to be another attempt by SCO to generate press coverage."

SCO said it gave Sequent/IBM two months written notice prior to the termination, as required by the terms of the contract. The company claims that Sequent/IBM chose not to address the purported breach of contract and did not offer any resolution to the disagreement.

The System V contract allowed Sequent to market derivative works and modifications of Unix software "provided the resulting materials were treated as part of the Original System V Software," according to SCO.

IBM acquired Sequent in 1999. The last new product to arrive was the short-lived 64-processor x430, though Sequent technology is used in IBM's current 16-processor x440 servers.

In its suit against IBM, SCO points to two Sequent technologies it says IBM moved from Dynix to Linux as part of the effort to make the operating system work better on large multiprocessor computers: read-copy update (RCU) and nonuniform memory access (NUMA).

Earlier this month, an IBM executive downplayed the threat of the pending SCO lawsuit, telling attendees at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo that the case would become a forgotten chapter in Linux history. However, IBM did file a countersuit rebutting SCO's claims.

Other Linux industry players have also responded to SCO's intellectual property suit aggressively. Red Hat, one of the two major distributors of Linux software, filed its own suit, demanding that SCO retract its copyright infringement claims.

IBM derides as "frivolous" in its countersuit SCO's claim that "SCO has ownership rights with respect to all of the code within AIX." The IBM countersuit doesn't address the Dynix/ptx software.