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Open Source for the Enterprise by Gautam Guliani, Dan Woods

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What You Need to Know About SCO

The story of this dispute begins at Novell, which initially turned its nose up at open source as a business model. This decision triggered a series of events that led to the current situation.

A Brief History of SCO

SCO’s origins lie in a secret project developed at Novell in the early 1990s—one that could have been a pioneering commercialized form of Linux. However, Novell scrapped the project, and the core members left to start Caldera, which rode the Linux wave of the late ’90s to an IPO and crashed, along with the rest of the sector, shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, Novell bought the original Unix patents and all accompanying rights from AT&T in 1993. After a management shake-up, it decided to flip those assets to the Santa Cruz Operation, signing a contract in 1995 that handed some, and then allegedly all, of the patents to that company. Caldera bought them, along with the company’s name, in 2001, and became the SCO Group a year later.

The renamed company had a management change of its own in 2002. Darl McBride, a Novell veteran and serial entrepreneur, took over as CEO and began revamping the business plan. According to press reports, McBride had developed and honed a business model at one of his prior companies that was built on constant patenting and licensing. Instead of making software products, his company focused on accumulating patents through research, which it then used to hit up companies with competing technologies for a licensing fee. ...

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