SCO Loses First Legal Round in Linux Battle

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


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A federal judge told SCO it has 30 days to respond to IBM's demands for details about the Linux code SCO claims encroaches on its intellectual property.

The SCO Group Inc. on Friday was dealt a legal setback in its case against IBM Corp. A magistrate of the U.S. District Court in Utah told SCO it has 30 days to respond to IBM's demands for details about the Linux code SCO claims encroaches on its intellectual property.

Magistrate Brooke C. Wells said that SCO will have to answer IBM interrogatories 12 and 13, which demand that SCO produce "all source code and other material in Linux ... to which plaintiff (SCO) has rights" and describe exactly how SCO believes IBM infringed these rights. The judge's order will be put into place on Wednesday, Dec. 10.

In addition, Ogden, Utah-based SCO must reveal all instances in which it has distributed Unix source code in ways that would lead to it being legally added to Linux. This ruling addresses a contention by Linux advocates that any Unix code in Linux was placed there by SCO itself.

In short, SCO will have to show IBM proof that its claimed "million lines of code" are actually in Linux, and that IBM, not SCO, was responsible for illegally placing the code there.

SCO also tried to convince the judge during the hearing that IBM should be made to show its Unix code before the interrogatories were granted, but Wells denied this request.

IBM spokesperson Trink Guarino said the Armonk, N.Y. company was happy with the results. "We are very pleased the court has indicated it will compel SCO to finally back up its claims instead of relying on marketplace FUD."

While David Boies (who represented the Department of Justice in its antitrust case against Microsoft) and his fellow Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP lawyer Mark Heise are SCO's attorneys in this case, the company was represented at the hearing by CEO Darl McBride's brother Kevin. Kevin McBride, according to West Legal Directory, has a private practice in nearby Park City, Utah, where he specializes in litigation and appeals, not corporate-contract or intellectual-property law.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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