SCO Seeks To Delay Start Of Trial Against IBM

In addition to asking for a delay until September 2005, SCO also requested that the court split IBM's counterclaims against it into a separate case.
In yet another legal volley in their 15-month-old battle over Linux, The SCO Group has filed a request with a Utah court to delay the beginning of its trial against IBM until September 2005.

The much-anticipated trial--which has deep implications for Linux and the open-source community--currently is scheduled to begin April 11, 2005. In the June 8 filing, SCO also requested that the court split IBM's counterclaims against it into a separate case.

IBM declined to comment on SCO's latest filing when contacted Wednesday.

One solution provider in the open-source world said the delay was another tactic by SCO to extend the legal battle. "It's in SCO's interest to stretch this out as long as possible," said Chris Maresca, senior partner at Olliance Group, Palo Alto, Calif. "SCO has had little impact, other than to make people aware of intellectual property issues around open source."

SCO, which filed its multibillion-dollar lawsuit against IBM in March 2003, maintains it needs more time to prove its claims that IBM violated its patent rights and Unix contract with SCO by improperly donating Unix code to the Linux kernel.

SCO and IBM have haggled for months over serving up the allegedly infringing code. In its latest maneuver, SCO on May 28 filed another brief with the U.S. District Court in Utah, requesting that the court compel IBM to cough up additional code from its AIX and Dynix Unix operating systems.

Following SCO's filing of a contract-violation claim against IBM in March 2003, IBM filed counterclaims charging SCO with violating four IBM patents. SCO then amended its original claim against IBM with patent-infringement claims and hiked the damages sought to $5 billion. The court is still deciding whether the new claim will be added.

Industry observers say the case could drag on for years, with or without the five-month delay requested by SCO. But one hard-liner in the Linux solution provider community said SCO should be ready to prove its case now.

"No delay should be granted because SCO has been claiming that they possess the smoking gun," said Douglas E. Hock, president of Ideal Systems, Orlando, Fla.

However, Michael Graham, an intellectual-property attorney and partner at Chicago law firm Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, said a delay would be par for the course in such a complex, far-reaching case. "A request for a delay of up to five months would not be unusual and should not be unanticipated by either SCO or IBM," Graham said. "This case is too important to the Linux and the open-source communities to be hurried."

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