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SCO Bad-Mouthed in Ruling

In a ruling critical of litigious SCO Group (SCOX), a federal judge this week denied IBM's (IBM - Get Report) motions for partial summary judgment in the legal battle between the two companies over Linux.

Although he denied IBM's motions in his 18-page ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball echoed the arguments of Big Blue and observers in both legal and financial circles that SCO has yet to offer any evidence that Linux open-source software is using code from Unix, which SCO claims it owns.

Lindon, Utah-based SCO sued IBM nearly two years ago, charging that the tech giant misappropriated Unix code for use in IBM's Linux open-source software business. Since then, Novell (NOVL) has claimed to own the Unix code and is embroiled in another legal battle with SCO.

In his ruling this week, Kimball cites a number of cases in which SCO executives have said they have found proprietary Unix code in Linux, but suggests they have yet to back up those comments with actual evidence.

"Viewed against the backdrop of SCO's plethora of public statements concerning IBM's and others' infringement of SCO's purported copyrights to the Unix software, it is astonishing that SCO has not offered any competent evidence to create a disputed fact regarding whether IBM has infringed SCO's alleged copyrights through IBM's Linux activities," the judge wrote.

The judge goes on to say that the "vast disparity between SCO's public accusations and its actual evidence -- or complete lack thereof" tempt him to grant IBM's motion for an early judgment on whether IBM has infringed on SCO copyrights.

Ultimately, the judge decided to deny IBM motions for summary judgment on infringement and breach of contract with SCO because he said he believes it is necessary to complete the discovery process -- exchanging evidence -- before resolving any claim. IBM may renew the motions or file new ones after discovery is completed, he said.
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