Court rules for IBM in preliminary SCO hearing

A judge ruled in favour of IBM Corp. in two motions argued in a Utah district court Friday in its ongoing legal dispute with The SCO Group Inc., a SCO spokesperson confirmed.

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. The motions were argued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.

“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 a spokesperson for IBM.

The legal dispute between the companies dates back to March, when the Lindon, Utah, firm sued IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., for more than US$1 billion, claiming that IBM had destroyed SCO’s Unix business by illegally contributing software to Linux.

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

“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 30 days to provide IBM with more details about the nature of the alleged violations, said SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell. A judge will revisit the issue Jan. 23 to evaluate whether or not SCO has responded appropriately, he said.

On that date, SCO also plans to 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.

Separately, SCO announced Friday that it had pushed back the announcement of the financial results for its fiscal 2003 year by two weeks. The delay is necessary to finalize accounting on a recent US$50 million investment that was made in the firm by BayStar Capital, SCO said in a statement. Revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003 should be in line with the US$22 million to US$25 million it had previously estimated, SCO said.

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