Sun Microsystems has revealed that it secretly signed a deal to license SCO Group's Unix intellectual property in February, before Microsoft made a similar announcement in May.
The deal expanded one that Sun, a leading Unix server vendor, signed in 1994 to use Unix in the Solaris OS.
As part of the deal, Sun may also buy 210,000 US$1.83 shares of SCO stock and use Unix System V Release 4 software in its device driver software components for Solaris. SCO is currently pushing its Unix intellectual property rights hard, hitting headlines this year for its $US3 billion lawsuit against IBM, which it alleges has violated its Unix contracts.
SCO has also garnered plenty of publicity for a public letter it wrote warning users of Linux - which incorporates code originally based on Unix - they may be in breach of intellectual property laws.
Sun in March decided to partner with other Linux vendors instead of basing its Linux products on Sun's own OS. SCO said in May that its Unix license deals had earned the company $US8.3 million in the quarter to 30 April. The company said the Sun and Microsoft licenses are expected to bring the earnings to US$13.3 million by year-end.