IBM is trying to reassure its customers regarding legal threats by The SCO Group Inc., the software company that has accused IBM of distributing code it owns in versions of the free Linux operating system.
Lindon, Utah-based SCO has sued IBM for $3 billion, saying the computer maker used parts of its Unix operating system code to enhance the performance of Linux — a freely available operating system that’s increasingly being used to run corporate computer networks.
Earlier this week, SCO said it would offer licenses to companies that are using the version of Linux distributed by IBM, noting that IBM customers would then be protected in using the software without having to go into the courtroom” (see story).
In a memo for IBM sales representatives obtained by Reuters, the company said, “SCO is asking customers to pay money based on pure unsubstantiated threats, without offering any facts.”
The memo told IBM sales representatives, “Remember, we are counting on you to make sure that customers with questions or concerns get the correct facts.”
SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said the memo is a sign that IBM sees SCO’s claims as a viable threat.
“I think they are taking the threat seriously. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be informing their salespeople about that,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of customers suggest they’d be interested in taking out a license.”
IBM, the world’s largest computer company, has rejected SCO’s claims, saying it has not demonstrated that its intellectual property rights have been violated.
SCO’s Unix-based software is used to run corporate tasks such as accounting and manufacturing systems and is licensed by IBM for use in its own version of Unix, known as AIX.
An IBM spokeswoman declined to comment.