Just days after SCO escalated its legal battle with IBM over alleged violations of a Unix source code contract, open source advocate Eric Raymond has said he has evidence that could undermine some of SCO's legal arguments.
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Raymond said he has collected the names of 60 Unix users who are willing to sign affidavits that will disprove SCO's claims that its Unix System V source code, which forms the basis of IBM's AIX Unix, contains trade secrets.
Misappropriation of trade secrets is one of six causes of action listed by SCO in its filings with the Utah District Court, but Raymond claims that the Unix source code has been so loosely guarded over the past 20 years that it is now impossible to legally prove that SCO's code contains trade secrets.
"There's a pattern of what a lawyer would undoubtedly interpret as a negligent failure to enforce trade secrecy," said Raymond. "They're claiming they have a trade secret while also having a history of failing to enforce the restrictions that would back up that claim," he added.
Raymond has been collecting information from Unix users since the end of May, when he set up a "No Secrets" web page at www.catb.org/~esr/nosecrets asking readers to contact him if they had "read access to proprietary Unix source code... under circumstances where either no non-disclosure agreement was required" or non-disclosure agreements were not enforced.
About 150 people have responded, Raymond said.
SCO's senior vice-president and general manager of SCOsource, Chris Sontag, said, "What he's doing is baseless because... the Unix System V source code has never been provided to any entity without a full source code agreement with full confidentiality, and very strict provisions."
Raymond disputes this claim. "It's public information that AT&T, its successors, and Unix suppliers such as Sun routinely sold source licences to universities which then exposed the code to thousands of students and faculty without requiring a non disclosure agreement or confidentiality pledges from anyone," he said.
Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service