11 February 2005 Software maker the SCO Group’s legal case against technology giant IBM has not started well for the plaintiff. The presiding judge has sharply criticised SCO for failing to produce sufficient evidence.
SCO has claimed that IBM has breached its intellectual property rights through allowing software code to be used in the Linux open source operating system. SCO is seeking $5 billion in damages.
But at the start of legal proceedings US District Judge Dale Kimball slammed SCO for its inability to back up claims with hard evidence and its changing arguments as to the nature of the copyright infringement
Despite Kimball’s criticism, however, he stopped short of a granting a summary judgement – something IBM had lobbied for. “Despite the vast disparity between SCO’s public accusations and its actual evidence – or complete lack thereof – and the resulting temptation to grant IBM’s motion, the court has determined that it would be premature to grant summary judgment.”
SCO said it was pleased by the courts decision to deny IBM’s motions to have the claims dismissed without a trial. “Coupled with last month’s ruling from the Magistrate Judge on discovery, we are looking forward to our day in court,” the company said.
The decision has been met by many industry analysts as a victory for IBM. Allonn Levy of law firm Hopkins and Carley said: “Even though you have to say that IBM did not hit the home run, if you read that order, you have no choice but to see this as another setback for SCO.”
SCO’s case has dented the credibility – although perhaps not permanently – of the value of open source software in a corporate environment. If SCO were to be successful, doubts over the legitimacy of swathes of open source code could deter corporate IT buyers.