October 7, 2005 6:19 PM PDT

IBM drops patent claims against SCO

IBM has dropped its three remaining claims of patent infringement in a lawsuit against the SCO Group, which originally sued Big Blue in March 2003 over claims it broke a Unix licensing contract by moving technology to Linux.

The move is a piece of good news for SCO, whose suit so far has been met with skepticism by the federal judge overseeing the case.

In a court filing Thursday, IBM said it dropped the claims to speed the case and to try to curtail the number of depositions SCO seeks, and added the potential monetary rewards are slim.

"While IBM continues to believe SCO infringed IBM's valid patents, IBM agreed to withdraw its patent counterclaims to simplify and focus the issues in this case and to expedite their resolution," IBM said in the filing. "Since SCO's sales have been, and are, limited, a finding of infringement would yield only the most modest royalty or award of damages and would not justify the expense of continuing prosecution of these claims."

When IBM countersued a few months after SCO's initial legal volley, it included four claims of patent infringement, but it dropped one claim in 2004.

Patent infringement suits are very expensive to defend, often costing about $3 million per claim, intellectual-property lawyers say.

Not everything went SCO's way, though. In a ruling Friday, Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells, who is overseeing the discovery phase of the trial, denied SCO's motion to compel IBM to release more information about its Linux work.

Dan Frye, director of IBM's Linux Technology Center, had argued in a deposition that it would be impractical to retrieve the information SCO wants, generating hundreds of thousands of documents and more than a million pages of information.

"In order to collect all the development history documentation sought by SCO, it would be necessary to search the individual offices and workstations of each of the more than 300 IBM developers throughout the world who have made Linux contributions," he said, adding that interviews of managers, support staff and others also would be required.

8 comments

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Just how much money.....
..... is MS providing under the table???????


SCO should have gone broke by now over useless legal expenses.

Maybe SCO managers are as lucky as they are stupid. But that
would have to be very lucky.....
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
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None
MS caved when SCO hit them up for money, in fact it's easy to see that MS decided they could cave in to all sorts of demands from all sorts of companies rather than risk more huge judgements against them. That money came OVER the table and while it has indeed allowed SCO to fund this lawsuit it looks like SCO is committed to a course or frittering all that money away on this useless lawsuit instead of on R&D which would advance the state of their software.

Because of that, SCO has ceeded Unix to the dustbin which is really more outrageous than their lawsuit against IBM. SCO has set a course where one grand old OS which has survived all manner of challenges over the years will be neglected into obsolescense.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
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How much longer?
I have been following this story since its beginning. It was, in fact, what brought me to news.com in the first place. It's nice to see IBM want to resolve this situation quickly. Honestly, it's gone on long enough. What once was said was going to be one of the most influential cases in computer history will probably go to be nothing more than another line in the history of the intellectual property wars.

Kudos to IBM for wanting to move on.
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
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Court appearnces can be deceptive
>>The move is a piece of good news for SCO, whose suit so far has been met with skepticism by the federal judge overseeing the case.<<

Actually this is bad news for SCO since the hearing yesterday was intended to resolve how many more depositions they could take in order to respond to the patent counterclaims by IBM. They did get permission to take 10 more depositions but were unable to gain any more delay in bringing this case to trial.

In essence IBM has called their bluff by dropping the patent counterclaims and the judge has backed them into a corner by telling them they can have 10 more depositions instead of 25 but they still need to adhere to the most recently revised hearings schedule.

Ruling from the bench indicates that SCO was unable to change the judge's mind about their claims that IBM had failed to comply with her rulings on providing discovery information. She told SCO that if there was a clarification needed about what she had ordered that it wasn't up to IBM to ask for the clarification since SCO had brought the suit. She also said that the patent counterclaim developments would be addressed at the next hearing on Dec. 20th.

To add insult to tactical outmaneuvering IBM explained that pursuing the patent counterclaims was pointless since they would not be able to recover any significant damages from a company that had virtually no market share and was unlikely to have any funds to pay a settlement with.

Now there are no patent counterclaims and the depositions they were seeking are moot both factually and [dis-]procedurally since the schedule wasn't amended. They can take depositions if they want but it will just cost them more and be of no use with regard to IBM's patents.

IBM also asked the judge to try (for a third time) to get SCO to explain what this case is about as they have yet to present any evidence of wrong-doing as noted by Judge Kimball.

This is indeed good news but, in my opinion, not for SCO.
Posted by Lynn_S (52 comments )
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The sky is falling
It is only a matter of time before the sky falls on SCO! Oh well, I guess, none in the industry bar M$ at redmond, will mourn Darl's and SCO's demise!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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no to patents
Since IBM is advocating F/OSS in some front, I believe by seeking claims to patent infringement is counterproductive to one of the F/OSS tenets: No to software patents.
Posted by (2 comments )
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BAD news for SCO
The story states dropping patent claims is good news for SCO.
Wrong.
The patent claims were at the very least a bargaining chip for IBM
for settlement negotiations. Why would they give them up
voluntarily?
Deletion of these claims means SCO will get no settlement from
IBM. It means IBM is quite certain it will win at trial. SCO is dead.
Posted by (2 comments )
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SCO should not need any more discovery
After all, when this farce started, sco claimed they had millions of lines of infringing code. The few lines they made public after this bogus claim were shown to be either not infringing or part of unix that is in the public domain.

I guess all those lines of code just disappeared.

Somebody has to be funding SCO. Their profits might be able to cover 10-20% of the legal bills. Who is covering the rest?
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
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