SCO asks IBM for 'road map'

Published September 16, 2004 12:05 am
Big Blue says it has no obligation to build opponent's case
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Utah's SCO Group says it needs an evidentiary "road map" in order to prove IBM improperly released proprietary Unix code into the freely distributed Linux operating system.

And the Lindon-based software company told U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball on Wednesday that IBM itself should be compelled to provide that map to navigate millions of lines of Unix and Linux code and identify key contributors to its Linux-related applications and releases.

"IBM has no right to require us . . . to do this [comparison] manually," SCO attorney Frederick Fry argued, complaining of the potential for "squandering the resources" of a small company in order to do side-by-side comparisons of mountains of programming code.

However, IBM attorney David Marriott countered that SCO's pitch to compel yet more evidence from the world's largest computer company amounted to little more than a "fishing expedition," and that the Utah company has claimed from the beginning of its $5 billion, March 2003 suit that it had conclusive evidence to back its claims.

Arguing instead for dismissal of SCO's Linux-related copyright infringement allegations, Marriott said SCO has long had all it needed to support its case: Unix, which SCO claims to own, and Linux, readily available on the Internet.

Fry says he needs a road map? It might as well be the road map to China," Marriott said. "The only 'road map' that matters is Unix and Linux."

Despite numerous requests for SCO's proof of IBM's purported wrongdoing, and repeated court orders to produce that information, "SCO has no evidence whatsoever . . . that IBM in- fringed on SCO's alleged copyrights."

SCO attorney Mark James likewise blasted IBM for what he said were inadequate responses to evidentiary requests, and specifically charged that Big Blue's numerous counterclaims showed it seeks "to control the timing and scheduling of the litigation."

"IBM has stonewalled SCO" on its evidence discovery motions, and in turn "injected very significant, burdensome and complex issues into this case," James added.

Kimball took the motions under advisement. He did not say when he would rule.

However, in a hearing that began at 2 p.m. and continued more than an hour after the courthouse's 4:30 p.m. closing time, the judge repeatedly cut off SCO's attorneys to keep them narrowly on the issues at hand.

"Unix is yours and Linux everybody can get hold of it, right?" Kimball asked at one point, and later, visibly frustrated, the judge pressed further: "What is it you think you need?"

SCO Group's battle over Linux

March 3, 2003: The SCO Group began what is now a wide-ranging battle with the free software movement when it filed a

$1 billion federal court lawsuit against computer giant IBM. At the heart of the dispute is SCO's claim that Unix programming code it owns has been used in newer versions of the freely distributed Linux operating system.

August 2003: IBM countersued over SCO's attempt to cancel its Unix contract. Both sides follow with a flurry of motions and counter-motions leading up to Wednesday's hearing, most of them seeking to mine programming code from each other.

The Unix-Linux debate also is at the root of a lawsuit filed against SCO by Red Hat Inc. The world's leading Linux distributor asks to be cleared of any allegations its product infringes on Unix.

February-March 2004: While SCO's suit against Big Blue remains the overarching, decisive case of the Unix-Linux dispute, 2004 has dragged several other companies into the fray. In February, SCO sued Novell for slander after Novell issued statements insisting SCO did not own all rights to Unix. A month later, SCO sued Daimler-Chrysler and AutoZone for alleged copyright violations relating to their use of Linux.

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