UPDATE: SCO looks to widen Linux complaint against IBM

The SCO Group Inc. aimed more legal fire at IBM Corp. this week, filing a motion to amend its Linux complaint against the company ahead of a hearing on Friday.

It was not clear from court papers made public exactly how the suit would be amended, but SCO said in a filing made Wednesday that the motion “adds claims that have arisen since the filing of the case.” The court set Wednesday as the deadline for amended pleadings in the case.

SCO hopes to add two copyright infringement claims to its complaint, a person familiar with the proceedings said Friday. Each claim could increase the amount of damages sought by US$1 billion, expanding the total damages at stake in the case to US$5 billion, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An IBM representative had no comment on the motion Friday. A SCO spokesperson, on the advice of the company’s legal team, declined to comment.

The amendment will be the second since SCO filed its initial suit against IBM in March of last year, claiming that Big Blue misappropriated trade secrets related to its Unix license in order to benefit its Linux business. SCO licensed the Unix operating system to companies like IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. after it said that it obtained rights to the license in 1995.

SCO first amended its complaint against IBM in June, increasing the damages amount at the time from US$1 billion to US$3 billion.

IBM has since countersued, claiming that SCO distributed its Linux technology without permission and infringed on technology copyrights.

During a hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah on Friday, both parties argued motions that would compel the other party to produce further evidence. IBM is seeking more information around SCO’s claims on Unix System V code, while SCO is seeking details on IBM’s AIX and Dynix, both Unix derivatives.

“The court followed up on its prior hearing and heard motions to compel discovery from both SCO and IBM. The court took the matter under advisement and indicated a written ruling would be forthcoming within the next week or so,” SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell said in a statement.

In the motion filed Wednesday, SCO said the proposed amendments to its case address concerns raised in IBM’s motion to strike portions of SCO’s defences, “thereby rendering moot IBM’s motion to strike.”

The Lindon, Utah, company added that it anticipates that IBM may reveal additional evidence through discovery and requested an opportunity to further amend its complaint to address any new evidence.

A trial of the case is set for April 11, 2005.

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