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April 14, 2005

SCO blames Groklaw for IP licensing disappointment

SCO Group's chief executive, Darl McBride, has launched a stinging attack on community legal web site Groklaw, insisting it is partly responsible for disappointing results from the company's SCOsource licensing program.

By CBR Staff Writer

Right now it’s a very challenging environment to be selling the SCOsource license program, said McBride on the Lindon, Utah-based company’s first-quarter conference call when it announced a net loss of $3m on revenue down 22% from $11.4m to $8.9m.

That revenue included just $70,000 in revenue from the company’s SCOsource intellectual property business, which was launched to sell licenses for Unix System V code the company claims has been improperly contributed to Linux.

This was actually up from $20,000 in the same quarter last year, but considerably less than the $10m it brought in during the fourth quarter of 2003. With tumbling revenue, growing losses, and a $5bn lawsuit against IBM to contend with, SCO can no longer rely on the SCOsource intellectual property business to boost its quarterly numbers.

My view on the trajectory of the SCOsource licensing is that it’s probably not going to kick in until we have some legal courtroom wins, McBride said, before launching into an unprompted attack against Groklaw, the community legal web site that has been tracking SCO’s claims against Linux since early 2003.

We also have a major web site that’s out there that’s stated their core reason for being is to try to destroy SCO and try and put a big damper on what our claims are in the marketplace, so we have a lot of misinformation flying around out there on this web site, he said.

McBride continued by attacking Pamela Jones, who started Groklaw, and continues to be the driving force behind the site. The reality is the web site is full of misinformation, including the people who are actually running it, and when you get to the point when you start to strip away the people that are in front of Groklaw I think you’ll find that Pamela Jones is not who she says she is, and the key to finding out who is behind Groklaw is to understand who is Pamela Jones, he said. We think that when you get to the point where you find some of the things we know you’ll find that everybody is being mislead as to who she says she is, and that the identity of Pamela Jones is much different than is advertised.

Some of the things that are happening around that web site are having a dampening effect on SCOsource, he said, adding that companies offering indemnification against SCO’s legal claims were also to blame for poor SCOsource performance.

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However, asked whether SCO thought there was a direct link between Groklaw and IBM, McBride declined to elaborate. What I would say is that it is not what it is purported to be, he said. All is not what it appears in Groklaw-land, and clearly there is a lot of spinning and hype over there, he said.

Who is Pamela Jones? And it’s about credibility, he continued. And I believe that once people learn some of the things we’ve come to learn there is going to be a serious question as to the credibility of that organization.

Jones’s response was restrained. Don’t bother asking me what Darl is talking about. I have no idea. I know who I am, and I know I’ve never misrepresented anything, she wrote on Groklaw.

It’s not the first time that SCO has publicly suggested that there may be more to Groklaw than meets the eye. In early 2004, SCO’s director of corporate communications, Blake Stowell, stated in an interview with LinuxInsider that Jones lives less than 10 miles from IBM’s global headquarters and that Groklaw was hosted by iBiblio, using IBM Linux servers.

Jones dismissed the speculation at the time, pointing out that the address information SCO was apparently basing its assessment of her residence on was actually a PO Box address. Jones describes herself as a journalist with a paralegal background, but has otherwise resisted the media limelight.

She briefly took a job as director of litigation risk research at indemnification firm Open Source Risk Management in February 2004, but resigned in November 2004 after a speaker at a SCO road show in the UK suggested there was a conflict of interest in an anti-SCO campaigner working for a Linux indemnification firm. Jones said at the time that she resigned to avoid the potential for becoming a target for the spread of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

So who is Pamela Jones? McBride would not say. We’re still digging to the bottom of this. I think once we have all of the facts complete we’ll be glad to do [share] that, he said. Perhaps the bigger question might be why SCO, a company McBride claimed is steadfastly focused on winning in both the court room and in the market place is so concerned with what a small community web site thinks about its claims.

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