Red Hat files suit against SCO

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SAN FRANCISCO--Red Hat escalated the legal war over Linux on Monday by announcing that it has filed a lawsuit against the SCO Group.

The seven-count suit seeks, among other things, a declaratory judgment that Red Hat has not violated SCO's copyrights or trade secrets, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said at a news conference here Monday.

The action is the most serious attempt so far to seize some of the initiative from SCO, owner of key Unix copyrights, in its legal actions against Linux. But SCO isn't relaxing: Chief Executive Darl McBride warned Szulik in letter on Monday to expect counterclaims.

The open-source community will likely welcome the legal strategy, which Red Hat announced on the first day of the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo that's taking place here. Lindon, Utah-based SCO asserts that some of the underlying code in Linux was unlawfully copied from Unix, the decades-old operating system to which SCO claims some intellectual property rights.

Earlier this year, SCO filed a $3 billion lawsuit against IBM for alleged copying of proprietary Unix intellectual property into Linux. It has also sent letters to about 1,500 Linux customers, warning that they may be infringing on SCO's intellectual property.

In a press release Monday, Red Hat called SCO's actions "unfair and deceptive" and said Red Hat's software does not infringe on any of SCO's intellectual property.

"We filed this complaint to stop SCO from making unsubstantiated and untrue public statements attacking Red Hat Linux and the integrity of the open-source software development process," Mark Webbink, Red Hat's general counsel, said in a statement. "Red Hat is confident that its current and future customers will continue to realize the significant value that our Red Hat Linux platform provides without interruption."

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