Court favours IBM in SCO hearing

A judge has ruled in favour of IBM in two motions argued in court concerning its legal dispute with The SCO Group.

A judge has ruled in favour of IBM in two motions argued in court concerning its legal dispute with The SCO Group.

The motions asked the court to compel SCO to provide more details about the intellectual property violations it alleges that IBM committed by contributing Unix code to the Linux operating system.

"IBM has said all along that SCO has failed to show evidence to back its claims. We are very pleased that the court has indicated it will compel SCO to finally back up its claims instead of relying on marketplace FUD [fear, uncertainty, and doubt]," said an IBM spokeswoman.

The legal dispute between the companies dates back to March, when SCO sued IBM for more than $1bn, claiming that IBM had destroyed SCO's Unix business by illegally contributing software to Linux.

IBM lawyers argued that SCO has, so far, been unable to provide any meaningful details of how IBM may have violated its intellectual property rights. It chose instead to inundate IBM with "46 CDs containing over 900,000 pages of source code", the lawyers said.

"SCO may not, as it apparently intends to, dump hundreds of thousands of pages of paper and million lines of computer source code on IBM, and shift to IBM the burden to answer [SCO's claims] based on information buried somewhere in those materials," the lawyers wrote in the filings.

Friday's ruling means that SCO has just over a month to provide IBM with more details about the nature of the alleged violations, said SCO spokesman Blake Stowell. A judge will revisit the issue on 23 January to evaluate whether or not SCO has responded appropriately.

On that date, SCO will also request further materials from IBM, including the source code to its Aix Unix operating system, Stowell said. "This is a normal course of action in a court case and we look forward to providing what they're asking for, and we look forward to requesting items of them that they have not yet provided," he said.

SCO's arguments were not made by a representative of its high-profile legal firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, but by Brent Hatch of the law firm Hatch, James & Dodge, and by Kevin McBride, the brother of SCO chief executive officer Darl McBride and a lawyer with the law firm Angelo Barry & Banta.

Kevin McBride was also a contributor to Darl McBride's recent Open Letter on Copyright, posted to SCO's website last week.

SCO has also pushed back the announcement of the financial results for its fiscal 2003 year by two weeks. The delay is necessary to finalise accounting on a recent $50m investment that was made in the firm by BayStar Capital.

Revenue for the fourth quarter of SCO's 2003 financial year should be in line with the $22m to $25m it had previously estimated, SCO said.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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