U.S. Magistrate Brooke Wells' ruling, released just minutes after Salt Lake City's federal courthouse closed Wednesday, came in the Lindon software company's contractual suit stemming from Big Blue's alleged distribution of Linux applications purportedly tainted with SCO's proprietary Unix code.
In a lawsuit tentatively set for trial next fall, SCO is seeking damages ranging from $5 billion to $50 billion from IBM. The Utah company also is in Linux-related litigation with Novell, Linux distributor RedHat Inc., and Linux end users AutoZone and DaimlerChrysler.
Wells' ruling came on a Dec. 23, 2004 motion to renew discovery after SCO accused IBM of failing to meet its demands for code, programmers' notes and other data from numerous Linux-related applications. IBM argued it had met SCO's requests to the best of its ability, and to further expand the scope of discovery amounted to a fishing expedition by the Utah company.
Wells refused to grant SCO complete review of all of the IBM programs it listed, but threatened to grant "unfettered access" in the future if IBM fails to provide all data - including approximately 2 billion lines of code - from its AIX and Dynix systems.
The magistrate also took the opportunity to chide both sides in the now 22-month-old lawsuit over "abundant accusations of stonewalling. . .
"The court assumes the good faith of all litigants before it," Wells wrote. "[But] it is important that the adversarial process, as contentious as it may be, not prevent [the court] from having the right information to resolve the issues in this case."
The magistrate ordered IBM to produce the additional programming information by March 18.
SCO spokesman Blake Stowell declined to comment on the decision, saying the company is discussing its ramifications with attorneys.
IBM officials did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
However, IBM attorney David Marriott had earlier argued for denial of SCO's requests for additional code, saying the Utah company had not made any progress proving its Unix rights were violated in nearly two years since it first raised its claims.
Marriott contended that in complying with past discovery requests in the case, 900 million lines equivalent to 15 million printed pages of source code have been turned over to SCO.