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21 August 2008, 13:24

SCO Group Deutschland has to check software updates from its parent company

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SCO Group GmbH, a subsidiary of US company SCO Group Inc., is required to check its internet presence for errors following software updates from its parent company. This even applies to past errors. The opinion was passed down by a district court in Munich, leading Jens Horstkotte, the company's legal counsel, to agree to a settlement in which the GmbH is required to pay 10,000 euros to an IT service provider.

SCO has become well known for the never-ending story of its legal battles – against Novell over UNIX commercial rights and copyrights, and against IBM over that company's alleged illegal use of its source code in Linux. In a precedent-setting decision in the dispute over the UNIX operating system between Novell and SCO Group, it was determined that SCO had infringed upon Novell's copyright and was liable for licensing payments. Currently SCO is operating in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but is hoping to find a new investor, not least of all to continue the court battle over the alleged stolen code in Linux.

What prompted the Munich case were SCO Group GmbH remarks on alleged illegal activity by Linux, which reappeared on the internet following a break; SCO GmbH had agreed to not repeat those remarks after a court agreement to desist in 2003. Thinking Objects GmbH, represented legally by Friedrich Bernreuther, had filed a complaint claiming that SCO had violated the desist agreement. SCO GmbH defended itself by stating that the prohibited remarks were posted, unwittingly, as a result of a software update provided by its parent company in the US. During the ensuing negotiations, the Munich district court passed down its opinion that SCO Group GmbH was responsible for reviewing the URL under which the prohibited remarks appeared -- at least following software updates.

When the company's legal counsel Horstkotte pointed out that the German company was not informed of such updates, the judges stated that it would have been reasonable for the company to obtain information on such procedures, since it is common knowledge that updates can cause such problems. SCO's only point that held up in court was that the remarks, accessible under a .com domain in the English language were not the responsibility of the German company. As a result, legal counsel for both sides followed the advice of the court and agreed to strike a settlement that could be appealed within a three-week period.


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