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SCO's Case at an End?

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-07-05 Print this article Print

The lawyers agree: After last week's court ruling, SCO's anti-Linux IBM lawsuit is in dire straits.

Since Day One of The SCO Group's lawsuit against IBM on the grounds that the corporate giant had stolen its Unix intellectual property for the betterment of Linux, SCO's opponents have shouted that there is nothing to the company's accusations.

Now, more than three years since the fight began, lawyers think that the court's recent decision to dismiss many of SCO's claims has shown that SCO's enemies were right all along.

What appears to be the real end of the case came on June 28. On that day, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells dismissed about two-thirds of SCO's claimed 294 examples of IBM contributing Unix code to Linux.

Is there anything of substance left to SCO's case? The lawyers say no.

Michael R. Graham, intellectual property attorney and partner with Marshall Gerstein & Borun LLP, an IP-specialty firm based in Chicago, said, "Judge Wells' order striking 198 claims against IBM brought by SCO is a clear example of SCO being hoisted by its own petard. Since SCO has since 2003 demanded that IBM produce specific examples of code, Judge Wells ruled that SCO may be held to the same standard. Although SCO produced 450,000 lines of code, claiming in more than 200 claims that IBM had infringed its methods and concepts in parts of the Linux code, it refused to identify with specificity what parts of the code contain or embody the allegedly infringing methods and concepts.

"Faced with this refusal, IBM argued, and Judge Wells agreed, that SCO should be denied the ability to assert the claims for which it had not identified code. While this is an extreme sanction, it is based on the Court's determination that SCO's failure to provide specificity was willful, a not unreasonable holding in light of the fact that SCO and IBM have challenged the sufficiency of each other's discovery responses since late 2003."

There is no question that the judge was fed up with SCO's refusal to show any specific evidence. Wells tore into the Lindon, Utah, company for not producing any specific evidence to prove its accusations, despite "given SCO's own public statements ... it would appear that SCO had more than enough evidence to comply with the court's orders."

Read the full story on Linux-Watch.com: Staking the Vampire: SCO's Case Comes to an End?

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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