DaimlerChrysler responds to SCO lawsuit

DaimlerChrysler has asked a Michigan court to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it by Unix vendor The SCO Group, saying that there is "no genuine issue of material fact" in SCO's case.

In March, SCO filed a lawsuit against the auto manufacturer in the Circuit Court for the County of Oakland, Michigan, claiming that DaimlerChrysler had refused to provide a requested "certification of compliance" indicating that DaimlerChrysler was in compliance with a Unix licensing agreement from November 1990.

In court filings dated April 15, however, DaimlerChrysler argues that although it has no obligation to provide SCO with such certification, it has indeed provided SCO with such a letter. "DaimlerChrysler has provided SCO with the only certification required under the license demonstrating that DaimlerChrysler is not even using and has not used the licensed software for more than seven years."

The filings refer to two letters sent by DaimlerChrysler to SCO's director of software licensing, Bill Broderick, and dated April 6, said DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman Mary Gauthier.

One of the letters, written by DaimlerChrysler's senior manager of tech services Norman Powell and addressed to Unix System Laboratories, certifies that DaimlerChrysler is no longer using the software licensed under an 1990 agreement between Chrysler Motors and Unix System Laboratories.

The second letter, written by DaimlerChrysler Senior Vice President and CIO Susan Unger and addressed to Broderick says that SCO has no right to seek such a certification but adds that the first letter "should cause SCO to dismiss its suit."

Novell acquired Unix System Laboratories and rights to the Unix operating system from AT&T in 1993. Some of these rights were eventually transferred to SCO, although Novell now claims that it retained copyright to the Unix System V code that SCO also claims to own.

DaimlerChrysler appears to believe that SCO has no rights to its Unix contract as well. "We were rather puzzled when we saw the lawsuit because we never had any agreement with SCO and never had any knowledge that SCO had assumed the rights to that agreement," said Gauthier.

The car maker's filings ask the Court to "grant summary disposition in its favor and against SCO, and deny SCO its requested relief."

SCO had been seeking damages for what it called "past violations of the DaimlerChrysler Software Agreement."

The fact that DaimlerChrysler has now produced the requested certification is unlikely to end SCO's lawsuit, said Bruce Perens, an open source advocate who has been following the case.

"I do not expect SCO to willingly drop any lawsuit, nor do I expect them to willingly allow any lawsuit to complete," he said. "The whole idea is for SCO to have lawsuits in play and for them to deceive people like Baystar (Capital LP) into believing that there's a chance of them succeeding," he said, referring to the Larkspur, California, venture firm that recently asked SCO to return a US$20 million investment it had made in SCO, alleging that SCO had breached the terms of its investment agreement.

SCO claims that the Linux operating system violates its copyrights and has sued a number of companies including IBM, Novell, and AutoZone in connection with these assertions. Open source advocates like Perens say the company has yet to prove such claims.

SCO declined to comment on this story.

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