SCO and IBM issue subpoenas in Linux wrangle

Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system, is among the recipients of a number of subpoenas filed by IBM and The SCO...

Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system, is among the recipients of a number of subpoenas filed by IBM and The SCO Group as their seven-month legal battle continues.

Torvalds was subpoenaed by SCO, which filed a $1bn lawsuit against IBM in March, which alleged that IBM illegally contributed some of SCO's System V Unix code to the Linux development project.

 "I don't know how these things work, and I will have to get a lawyer to tell me what to do," he said. 

In August, IBM countersued SCO alleging patent infringement. 

SCO also sent subpoenas to: 

  • Richard Stallman, author of the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) and founder of the Free Software Foundation. 
  • Stuart Cohen, chief executive officer of the non-profit Open Source Development Labs in Oregon, which supports the use and development of Linux in business computing. 
  • John Horsley, legal counsel for Transmeta, where Torvalds previously worked before joining the OSDL this year as its fellow. Also subpoenaed are unnamed executives from vendors Novell and Digeo. 

"We're seeking information from these individuals because of their recognised leadership roles in the evolution of Linux," a SCO spokesman said. "We believe that their technical views will help to illuminate important issues related to the development of Linux and the validity of the GPL." 

IBM's subpoenas were sent to BayStar Capital, which invested $50m in SCO last month, as well as to Deutsche Bank Group, Renaissance Ventures and research firm The Yankee Group. 

An IBM statement said the subpoenas went out to try to move SCO's claims out into the open which, IBM claims, has not yet happened.

"It is time for SCO to produce something meaningful," IBM said. "They have been dragging their feet and it is not clear there is any incentive for SCO to try this in court." 

A SCO spokesman called IBM's selection of subpoena targets "interesting". 

"While citing a desire to understand what specific parts of Linux code are involved in this case, [IBM] has not chosen to subpoena any technical experts, but instead has subpoenaed those who have made investments in The SCO Group, along with one industry analyst who has said only that SCO's case should be taken seriously," the SCO spokesman said.

"In some ways, IBM's list of subpoenas look less like an effort to unravel the critical technical issues of the case, and more like an effort to intimidate SCO investors," the spokesman added.

Todd R Weiss writes for Computerworld

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