06.21.09

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SCO, Microsoft, Novell, and Other News from Utah

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, SCO, UNIX at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Licence plate from Utah

Summary: A bundle of SCO news with some interpretation

SEVERAL days ago, SCO was temporarily rescued by a entity with connections to Microsoft [1, 2]. SCO may be rescued from immediate liquidation, but it remains to be seen if the plans are followed through. Either way, SCO might not die quite so quickly after all [1, 2]. Here is a quick summary of SCO news that we haven’t covered yet.

The Register gets around to writing about SCO’s rescue. The article comes from one of the publication’s better reporters, who concludes with:

An appointed bankruptcy trustee recently asked permission to dissolve SCO under Chapter 7, saying the company has “no reasonable chance of rehabilitation.” That is, unless it somehow miraculously came up with the cash to pay off its debts. And oh how we scoffed at the very idea.

It seems SCO’s uncanny survival will now be decided at the new hearing set for July 16, or the backup date July 27.

Ken Jennings from LinuxToday calls this whole thing the “Price of FUD”, correctly remarking that:

Wasn’t SCO’s earlier asking price around 5million? Now I see it’s down to 2.4 million. Wake me when it’s 25 cents, so I can put in my bid.

Remember $100 million? A lot has changed since then.

Stephen Norris has come to SCO’s rescue before. Last year, IT Business Edge blogger Lora Bentley reported that a group led by Stephen Norris Capital Partners gave SCO a $100 million infusion to rescue it from Chapter 11.

Groklaw pokes fun at this attempts from SCO to keep its head above water.

Here’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols on ComputerWorld on SCO rising from the dead. We’ll see. I’d describe it more like keeping the patient on life support, while hoping for a cure. The plan hasn’t been approved yet, y’all.

[...]

So is Unix heading to Iraq? Google is your friend. Nothing SCO does surprises me any more, though, not even yesterday’s events. In fact, privately I predicted to several Groklaw folks that this is more or less the kind of thing I thought they’d try. SCO never gives up. The judge seemed surprised, calling it a Perry Mason moment. But that’s because he doesn’t know SCO like we do.

Over in Germany, Heise has more than a single report about the subject, which it summarises thusly:

In yet another bizarre twist in the interminable legal dispute over source code allegedly illegally copied from UNIX System V into Linux, the SCO Group, which claims ownership of the disputed code, has secured a last-gasp reprieve from the threat of liquidation. Immediately before the crucial liquidation hearing in the bankruptcy court, SCO CEO Darl McBride signed an agreement with a company by the name of Gulf Capital Partners, backed by well-known investor Stephen Norris. Caught out by the surprise development, all parties have agreed to postpone the liquidation hearing until the 16th or the 27th of July.

Groklaw shows that SCO Germany has lost its CEO. SCO is actually a very small company at this stage, so overseas branches almost seem like a misfit, a legacy. SCO even gets fined in Germany for slander.

There is an unconfirmed claim that SCO will pass its assets to another company to operate under a different name. The sale of UNIX assets is neither a done deal yet nor is it an escape from Chapter 7, but it sure seems like a good route for procrastination, no matter the eventual outcome. SCO has nothing to lose when it’s all just paperwork.

Only moments before a hearing at which SCO would have faced conversion to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the company signed a deal to sell off its UNIX assets. This last-minute act of desperation could potentially allow SCO to delay its demise.

Groklaw is not even sure who the proposed buyer is. It’s all very opaque, as it has always been [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

There are some media reports on the SCO cliff hanger bankruptcy hearing on Monday. The more information that comes in, the less clear I am on exactly who the actual proposed buyer is. I’ll show you why.

According to this new report, Microsoft makes another little move into Utah.

If you’re in the market for a software development job, you might want to head to Utah County. Microsoft Corp. is hiring. The software giant, based in Redmond, Wash., announced Wednesday that the company will occupy space at Thanksgiving Park in Lehi beginning in August and will eventually hire about 100 information technology professionals.

Microsoft relocated to Utah some months ago (despite layoffs in other areas) while Novell offshores Utah staff. A Novell-centric agenda was suspected at the time of this move from Microsoft, but it is probably much of a stretch and too far fetched. On the other hand, regarding the report above, Pamela Jones writes: “If SCO’s deal doesn’t happen, maybe the 62 employees left at SCO could find work with Microsoft.”

We previously saw how Microsoft rewards people who attack ODF and/or GNU/Linux by offering them jobs [1, 2]. It is a sophisticated form of bribery where action precedes the payment.

In other SCO-related news, some articles about the Psystar case note its similarity to the SCO case. See for example:

i. Apple accuses Psystar of hiding behind bankruptcy

The Cupertino, California firm goes so far as to draw parallels between Psystar and the fate of infamous software house SCO Group. Known for using lawsuits against Linux-dependent companies over UNIX rights disputes as part of its business model in later years, it’s linked to Psystar through its approach to bankruptcy: when it lost its lawsuit against Novell and was ordered to pay money on UNIX licensing, SCO purportedly used bankruptcy and the resulting stay as a defensive measure to fend off the requests for money. Novell eventually had the stay lifted — a precedent which Apple is keen to take advantage of in its own case.

ii. Psystar owes Apple $75,000 while Apple moves to lift stay (Updated)

Apple compared the tactics to those of the SCO Group in its attempts to avoid paying Novell money owed based on UNIX licensing, painting Psystar president Rudy Pedraza as the Darl McBride of Mac cloners. Apple noted that the automatic stay was lifted in that similar situation.

iii. Apple seeks go-ahead for action against Psystar

Interestingly, Apple cites proceedings between Novell and SCO as a precedent. Novell obtained a summary judgement that it was entitled to copyright royalties from SCO, but before the case was tried SCO filed for bankruptcy.

Any more information about SCO would be welcome.

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2 Comments

  1. pcolon said,

    June 21, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Gravatar

    Did any companies using linux pay sco when they had the initial extortion racket going, and if they did who do they look to for compensation?

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Well, technically Microsoft uses GNU/Linux and also distributes it via Novell.

    Microsoft paid SCO many millions and it wanted ‘compensation’ when it sent William Gates (Sr.) to ask for the money back from SCO (in late 2007, IIRC). And then there’s BayStar…

    “…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”

    Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO

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