The SCO Group kicked off its annual technology summit with a dual focus on launching new products and fighting IBM through litigation.
Because it is being held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the company used several movie clips to introduce its two key speakers, senior VP of worldwide marketing Jeff Hunsaker and CEO Darl McBride. The tone of each introduction was unique: Hunsaker bounced onto stage in Elvis glasses and a scarf after clips of “Honeymoon in Vegas,” while McBride took the stage after a montage of “Rocky” clips that showed the bloodied fighter winning a boxing match while in a state of near-collapse.
Rather than sidestep the issue of the contentious battle against IBM, McBride referenced it often for the audience of partners and developers, even laying out the main points of the suit. “When all of this is played out,” he said, “the truth will prevail.”
Although Hunsaker gave a more general introduction to the conference’s themes, he also referenced the case for comedic effect, noting that SCO had obtained permission to show the movie clips.
“Trademarks are important, so we want to make sure that we’re respecting them,” he said. “We think it’s important to get permission if you’re going to be using someone else’s property.”
The movie theme continued as McBride began his keynote, when he compared the SCO litigation to “The Princess Bride.” He said he identified most strongly with the film’s protagonist, Wesley, who was filled with righteous anger as a result of being wronged.
To hammer the point home, he showed a scene from the film in which Wesley is being tortured to death, and emitting a wail of “ultimate suffering.” McBride referenced disparaging remarks from pundits, Linux pioneer Linus Torvalds, IBM and numerous blogs. “This has not been an easy year,” he said. “It’s been a year of ultimate suffering.”
Focus on Big Blue
Although SCO has lawsuits pending with other companies like Novell and AutoZone, McBride concentrated only on IBM in speaking about litigation. He presented a boiled-down version of the company’s side of the case, noting its roots in a 1998 joint project with IBM that was killed by Big Blue.
In that project, the companies had agreed to develop a Unix product for Intel. The reason IBM pulled the plug, according to McBride, is that “they already had the source code we gave them.”
The unveiling of the source code in question has been the subject of much controversy since SCO began its legal proceedings. IBM has claimed that SCO has not adequately shared the “stolen” code, while SCO maintains that IBM is the sluggish one in the discovery process.
At the conference, McBride made the assertion again that it is IBM that is not following proper discovery procedures, and that despite Big Blue’s reluctance to release everything, SCO has identified 21,000 lines of SCO code from the few versions of AIX and Dynix that have been shared.
Hunsaker and McBride referenced new projects and products, but it was the litigation that seemed to be the theme throughout. McBride emphasized several times that “the truth” would come to light, and implied that naysayers would be convinced in the end.
“If I had it to do ten times over again,” he said, referring to the IBM lawsuit, “I’d do it, every time.”
He added that once a verdict is reached in November 2005, “The mainstream IT community will understand and embrace SCO’s position.”
SCO maintains that it was not the one to begin the fight, because IBM threw the first punch by taking the code. “We didn’t start this, but we’re going to finish it,” McBride said.
In addition to the numerous comments about the IBM case, the company also highlighted new products and services, including the availability of SCOoffice Server 4.1 and an initiative that offers developers pay-per-project opportunities to work with the SCO product line.
The update to the SCOoffice Server is an alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server, with migration tools. It is designed to stop e-mail viruses, filter junk e-mail and secure e-mail access.
The developer initiative, SCO Marketplace, lets developers bid on development work related to SCO’s Unix products. In a description of the initiative at the conference, SCO vice president of engineering Sandy Gupta noted that having a solid developer program around the company’s operating system products is a major focus for SCO.
Despite the amount of comments regarding its intellectual property claims, McBride attempted to show that the company was not just about recent legal actions and venomous remarks on Groklaw.
“The elephant on the table is the intellectual property issue,” he said. “But when people say we’re only about litigation, it really bugs me. We have strong engineering talent, and 95 percent of our company is focused on building strong products, not on intellectual property litigation.”