Hewlett-Packard (HP) is planning to indemnify its Linux customers against legal action from SCO Group, according to a report on the Web site of the Wall Street Journal.

The plan will be announced later Wednesday and will cover any customer that has acquired Linux on an HP server or workstation by 1 October, said the report. Under the scheme HP will offer to take over any litigation against its customers by SCO, said the newspaper.

Earlier this year SCO Group said it plans to begin seeking licensing revenue for what it says is large parts of its intellectual property that can be found within the open-source Linux operating system. SCO kicked off its campaign in March when it filed a lawsuit against IBM Corp. alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and other illegal actions related to the latter's Linux business and sought at least US$1 billion in damages.

In July, SCO widened its field of fire, warning Linux users that it might file copyright infringement lawsuits against them if they don't license its UnixWare technology.

The company is offering licences for $699 per processor per user and says it has already signed up at least one Fortune 500 company to the system. In August this year it said it expects to book between $9 million and $12 million in such licensing revenues over the next quarter.

The battle has continued to heat up, with IBM and Linux distributor Red Hat filing separate lawsuits against SCO in August and SCO's Web site being put out of commission for three days, apparently the victim of a malicious distributed denial-of-service attack.

SCO has already lost one legal battle in Germany, where it was fined €10,000 (US$10,800) for claiming that the Linux source code violates its intellectual property, contravening a court order prohibiting it from making such statements.