SCO vs. IBM update: Evidence due at year-end

The shortest day of the year (assuming you live in the Northern Hemisphere) could end up being a long one for SCO and IBM lawyers. A judge last week said that both companies have until Dec. 22, 2005, to present their respective evidence "with specificity" in the patent infringement case SCO has against IBM.

SCO had requested to amend its $5 billion lawsuit against IBM by adding new charges that IBM illicitly used Unix System 4 source code in its AIX operating system for the Power PC. U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball said enough is enough. He rejected the call for more amendments to the case, adding that such a move "would serve only to delay its resolution."

SCO, which claims to own the intellectual property rights over Unix System 4 (on which most commercial Unix variants are based), first sued IBM in March 2003, accusing Big Blue of slipping the Unix code into parts of Linux it helped develop. SCO has amended its case twice already since originally filing.

The deadline is some light at the end of the SCO-vs.-IBM tunnel, although the case still has a long way to go. Fact discovery could go on as late as March 17, 2006, and a jury trial isn't scheduled until a little less than a year after that (Feb. 26, 2007). But the Dec. 22 deadline will be the first official submission of evidence in the case in a court; SCO has made its case through its PR campaign and a "source code review tour" in 2003, where the vendor offered to show the disputed source code to journalists, analysts and anyone else interested.

In a legal win for SCO, the same judge also ruled that SCO's slander lawsuit against Novell could go on. In that case, SCO sued Novell, saying the NetWare-maker hurt the company's reputation by publicly disputing SCO's claims of copyright ownership of the Unix source code. Novell had sought dismissal of the suit, but it will continue.

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