Unix developer The SCO Group has filed a lawsuit against IBM charging it with misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and other illegal actions related to IBM's Linux business. The suit seeks at least $1 billion in damages.The SCO Group\u00a0this week filed a $1 billion lawsuit against\u00a0IBM, alleging Big Blue tried to destroy the value of Unix to benefit IBM\u2019s own Linux business.SCO\u2019s\u00a0complaint, filed Thursday in the State Court of Utah, claims misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference, unfair competition and breach of contract on the part of IBM. IBM could not be reached for comment.\u201cWe are alleging that IBM misappropriated the research-and-development resources previously dedicated to AIX to benefit their Linux business,\u201d said Darl McBride, president and CEO at SCO, in a conference call Friday announcing the lawsuit. \u201cThis is a direct violation of their Unix contract with SCO.\u201dIBM entered into a Unix license agreement with\u00a0AT&T\u00a0in 1985 to produce its AIX operating system. SCO inherited AT&T\u2019s interest in the IBM agreement in 1995 when it purchased rights to the Unix operating system and UnixWare \u2014 including source code, source documentation, software development contracts and licenses \u2014 which AT&T originally owned.SCO is demanding that IBM cease within 100 days what it deems anticompetitive practices, or SCO will revoke its AIX license. SCO seeks at least $1 billion in damages.Founded in 1979, SCO was one of the first commercial Unix vendors, and the leading vendor of Unix on Intel, when upstart Linux company Caldera acquired it in August 2000. The acquisition was seen as ironic by some industry watchers, because Caldera \u2013 a Linux company \u2013 was buying much of SCO\u2019s core Unix intellectual property, from which Linux was modeled. At the time, SCO\u2019s UnixWare product for Intel servers was the most-shipped Unix operating system, with around 37% of the market in 2000, according to IDC.While Caldera had hoped to take advantage of SCO\u2019s large customer base and extended professional services arm, the new company saw itself in the red at the end of each fiscal year since the acquisition.Caldera changed its name to the SCO Group in August, took on the old company\u2019s logo, rebranded its Caldera OpenLinux and OpenLinux as SCO Linux, and reverted back to the old UnixWare brand name for the Intel-based Unix operating system. In January, the company announced the formation of its SCOsource division, created to manage the company\u2019s Unix intellectual property rights.Boies, Schiller and Flexner filed SCO\u2019s complaint. David Boies, the lead lawyer in the U.S. Justice Department\u2019s Microsoft antitrust case, is managing partner at the law firm. SCO\u00a0announced\u00a0in January that the firm had been retained to research and investigate possible violations of SCO\u2019s intellectual property. The vendor wanted to be \u201ca little bit more aggressive than we have been in the past at enforcing our intellectual property,\u201d said Chris Sontag, senior vice president of SCO\u2019s operating systems division, in a previous interview.In the conference call, McBride was unclear about whether more lawsuits would follow.That SCO chose IBM as the first target of its legal offensive has upsides and downsides, says Brian Kelly, a Fenwick & West partner in Washington, D.C., who specializes in IT intellectual property.The upsides are that IBM has deep pockets, so seeking large amounts of money is feasible, and that suing IBM has a high public relations value in terms of attracting media attention, Kelly says.The main downside is that by now IBM has so much money invested in its Linux efforts that it will have little incentive to capitulate and seek a settlement, and probably will be willing to devote a significant amount of money and legal resources to fight the lawsuit, Kelly says. Had SCO chosen to go after a smaller company, such as a small Linux distributor, its chances of getting the upper hand in a settlement would have been better, he says.Regarding SCO\u2019s claims, Kelly says it\u2019s too early to determine how valid they are, especially without hearing IBM\u2019s reaction.Eric Raymond, president of the Open Source Initiative, a nonprofit corporation that promotes the concept of open-source software, says SCO\u2019s chances of succeeding against the much bigger IBM are \u201cvanishingly small.\u201d\u201cSCO\u2019s motivation is desperation, because it doesn\u2019t have a business left,\u201d Raymond says, referring to the financial problems the company has faced.IDG News Service correspondent James Niccolai contributed to this story.