SCO says IBM mischaracterized lawsuit

The SCO Group Inc. last week submitted written arguments explaining why a Utah judge should not issue a summary judgment dismissing its multibillion-dollar lawsuit against IBM Corp.

IBM has mischaracterized SCO’s lawsuit against the computer giant and failed to provide relevant information during the discovery portion of the case, SCO argued in filings submitted to the United States District Court for the District of Utah. A summary judgment would be premature, because SCO has acted in good faith and has not yet had the opportunity to make full discovery, SCO maintains.

IBM has been seeking a summary judgement in the case, which could essentially put an end to the matter, according to legal experts. Big Blue has also asked the court for a declaratory judgment on the question of whether IBM violated SCO’s copyright, which would prevent new copyright claims from being brought against IBM at a later date.

Though SCO has asserted that Linux contains code copied line for line from its Unix System V source code, the Thursday filings indicate that SCO does not believe that IBM was responsible for these alleged violations.

“SCO has not alleged any copyright violation based on IBM’s contributions to Linux,” the filings state. The only copyright claim SCO has brought against IBM has to do with the AIX and Dynix operating systems, which IBM continued to distribute after SCO “terminated” IBM’s Unix licenses last year, the filings state.

IBM has criticized SCO in past court filings, claiming the Lindon, Utah, company so far has failed to provide evidence of IBM’s infringement.

In Thursday’s filings, SCO fought back, accused IBM of mischaracterizing the matter.

“No matter how many times IBM mischaracterizes it, this case is not about literal copying of Unix source code into Linux,” SCO wrote. “Instead, SCO has claimed from the very outset that IBM’s contribution to Linux of the “resulting materials” it created as modifications to or derivative works based on Unix System V…constitutes a breach of IBM’s licensing agreements.”

Because SCO’s public statements about alleged copyright infringement in Linux have been stronger than those in its court filings, the question of whether the SCO versus IBM case is simply a contract dispute between the two companies or a copyright case — which could create greater liabilities for users — has been obscured, said Jonathan Eunice, an analyst with industry research firm Illuminata Inc.

“It’s a squishy case,” Eunice said. “There was this whole period of multiple months where SCO was essentially saying there is line-for-line copying, ergo it’s a clear-cut copyright case for us.”

“If you talked to (SCO’s) lawyers, they treated the copyright case as more of an indication than the real case they wanted to bring. I believe that they want to broaden out the case (to include more copyright claims),” he said.

IBM and SCO will have an opportunity to argue their positions on the summary judgment question on Aug. 4, when the court hears oral arguments on the matter, said Blake Stowell, an SCO spokesperson.

IBM declined to comment for this story.

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