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Update: SCO sues AutoZone, DaimlerChrysler over Linux use

SCO Group ended the suspense early today when it announced it had filed suit against auto retailer AutoZone and manufacturer DaimlerChryslter for their use of Linux.

SCO Group today singled out two commercial Linux users as legal targets, citing copyright and contractual violations.

SCO filed suit early today in U.S. District Court in Nevada against AutoZone Inc., an auto supply retailer based in Memphis, Tenn. Later today, SCO is expected to sue DaimlerChrysler Corp. in an Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan.

SCO alleges that AutoZone, a former SCO customer and a current Red Hat user, is violating SCO's copyright of System V Unix. SCO alleges that IBM improperly donated code from System V Unix to Linux, and the Lindon, Utah-based vendor currently has a $5 billion suit filed against Big Blue.

Meanwhile, SCO says that DaimlerChrysler is in violation of a software agreement it signed with SCO predecessor Caldera. DaimlerChrysler has access to System V Unix source code via this agreement. In December, SCO sent a letter to its Unix licensees requiring them to certify they are not in violation of confidentiality stipulations in the agreement and that they have not disposed of that code in any way.

SCO CEO Darl McBride said today in a press conference that DaimlerChrysler had not certified its compliance with this agreement. He did concede that he was not aware whether DaimlerChrysler had improperly donated the code to Linux.

"This is a contractual violation," McBride said. "They are required to certify. It does relate to Linux to the extent that they have access to our source code and that knowledge may have been imported to Linux."

SCO did not reveal what it is seeking in terms of damages from either case. That will be determined at trial, a SCO attorney said.

With regard to AutoZone, McBride said that suit is an action against commercial Linux use.

"There are significant structural copyrighted components tied to Linux that we feel violate our agreement," McBride said.

AutoZone, based in Memphis, Tenn., sells car and truck parts, chemicals and accessories in 3,000 stores in 42 states, and in 21 stores in Mexico.

McBride said that more copyright and contractual infringement litigation will follow.

Last November, SCO CEO Darl McBride said that his company would announce a lawsuit against a commercial Linux user by Feb. 18. That deadline passed, and little was made of it until Monday, when McBride, speaking at the Software 2004 conference in San Francisco, said a suit would come this week.

Last year, SCO filed suit against IBM, alleging that Big Blue had improperly donated portions of System V Unix to the Linux kernel. Also last year, SCO notified 1,500 enterprises of its intention to litigate against any Linux-using company that failed to purchase a Unix license from SCO.

A Utah district court judge recently allowed SCO to amend its suit against IBM. SCO added copyright infringement charges and dropped allegations of misappropriation of trade secrets.

Also this week, SCO publicly identified its biggest Linux licensee to date, Houston-based ISP and Web host EV1 Servers, a division of EV1.Net.

EV1 Servers reportedly purchased licenses for its 20,000 Linux servers at a price that was lower than the $699 per server that SCO was asking, a SCO representative said.

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