Backgrounder on the
UNIX® System and SCO / IBM
Regarding SCO's positioning on UNIX, The Open Group would like to
make it clear that SCO holds the rights ONLY to the operating system
source code (originally licensed by AT&T) and related intellectual
property and DOES NOT OWN the UNIX trademark itself or the definition
(the Single UNIX Specification) of what the UNIX system is.
Reference to the SCO web site shows that they own certain intellectual
property and that they correctly attribute the trademark to The Open
Group. SCO has never owned "UNIX". SCO is licensed to use
the registered trademark UNIX "on and in connection" with their
products that have been certified by The Open Group, as are all other
These are the ONLY circumstances in which a licensee may use the
trademark UNIX on and in connection with it's products.
Statements that SCO "owns the UNIX operating system", has
"licensed UNIX to XYZ" are clearly inaccurate and misleading
Allen Brown, President & CEO The Open Group says:
Whoever said that, "the first casualty of war is truth"
probably did not expect that it would be quoted in a dispute amongst
By now many of you will be aware that SCO Group has started legal
proceedings against IBM. That action has turned into a war of words
and those words very often serve to mislead or confuse, perhaps not
intentionally but nevertheless fear, uncertainty and doubt is the
The reason this concerns The Open Group is that many organizations who
procure UNIX systems, do so in the knowledge that an operating system
that is certified by The Open Group to use the UNIX trademark, conforms
to the Single UNIX Specification, will always conform and if it is found
not to conform, will be rectified by the vendor at the vendor's
Certification of conformance to standards is critical to the efficient
operation of the market. Governments are particularly concerned with
certified conformance to standards - it is a little late to find out on
the battlefield that a piece of equipment does not meet a supplier's
claims of conformance to standards. This is one example of the
importance of a neutral third-party carrying out the certification
The Open Group is the owner of the UNIX trademark which it holds on
behalf of the industry. This truth has not been entirely visible in the
media, even though it is acknowledged on SCO Group products and on their
The Open Group is a vendor-neutral organization. It has no opinion on who
is right and who is wrong in the SCO Group case against IBM; we will
leave that for the courts, the media and those with the time to write-in.
However, we do care about customers and users of UNIX systems whose
businesses, or in some cases, lives, depend upon the UNIX trademark as an
indicator of trust, as they have done for a good number of years now.
The Open Group actively pursues anyone who puts this trademark in harm's
way. Initially we seek to use education and persuasion to obtain the
correct usage and attribution of the UNIX trademark. Only in very rarest
of cases do we take legal action, usually after all other courses of
action have failed.
The simple fact is that throughout all of this both SCO Group and IBM do
have certified products, are licensed to and do use the UNIX trademark in
association with certified products with the correct
You can help us to remind the industry of the ownership of the UNIX
trademark and ensure that its proper use as a neutral indicator of
certification for the benefit of customers of UNIX systems.
To help, is very simple, all you have to do is to publish the following
"UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group in the United
States and other countries."
In 1994 Novell (who had acquired the UNIX systems business of
AT&T/USL) decided to get out of that business. Rather than sell the
business as a single entity, Novell transferred the rights to the UNIX
trademark and the specification (that subsequently became the Single UNIX
Specification) to The Open Group (at the time X/Open Company).
Subsequently, it sold the UNIX System V source code and the product
implementation (UNIXWARE) to SCO. The Open Group also owns the trademark
UNIXWARE, transferred to them from SCO more recently.
As the owner of the UNIX trademark, The Open Group has separated the UNIX
trademark from any actual code stream itself, thus allowing multiple
implementations. Since the introduction of the Single UNIX Specification,
there has been a single, open, consensus specification that defines the
requirements for a conformant UNIX system.
There is also a mark, or brand, that is used to identify those products
that have been certified as conforming to the Single UNIX Specification,
initially UNIX 93, followed subsequently by UNIX 95, UNIX 98 and now UNIX
03. Both the specification and the UNIX trade mark are managed and held
in trust for the industry by The Open Group.
SCO, along with all other vendors of UNIX systems (regardless of wether
they are members of The Open Group or not), distribute a UNIX
system that has been certified through The Open Group (and before that
the X/Open) certification process.
How YOU can help
There is a simple guide to using the trademarks correctly
below. In short, use the ® symbol on the trademark, use the
ownership acknowledgement 'UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open
Group in the United States and other countries.' in all printed
materials, get it on your web site, and educate your colleagues and
friends to do the same.
When you buy a system ask the vendor for a certificate of conformance,
make it a requirement to be certified (all key open systems are
certified, UNIX systems amongst them) in your procurements.
For further discussion on SCO's IP Claim please also see:
For the Austin Group see:
For LSB certification and testing information see:
For trademark information