SCO has suffered a double blow in its legal attempts to force recognition of what it claims is Linux' infringement of its copyright.
Citing delays in the discovery process of its $5 billion lawsuit with IBM, the company asked a Utah court to move back the trial date in the case by five months, to mid-September 2005.
At the same time, a US District Court judge stayed a lawsuit brought by Red Hat against SCO saying that the key issues in the case are already being examined in the IBM case, but would not request SCO's demand that the case be thrown out.
As for the IBM case, it has been "effectively stayed for four months", SCO said in a motion. The company placed blame for the delays squarely on IBM. "IBM's untimely responses to discovery have hindered orderly prosecution of the case," SCO's lawyers wrote. IBM, unsurprisingly, is not in total agreement. "We disagree with that and we'll respond to SCO's motion in court," said IBM spokesman Mike Darcy.
In December, the judge presiding over the case ordered SCO to provide more details about the intellectual property violations IBM is alleged to have committed by contributing Unix code to the Linux operating system. That ruling helped delay the discovery process, SCO said.
Referring to that case, the judge in the Red Hat case said: "It is a waste of judicial resources to have two district courts resolving the same issue."
Red Hat sued SCO in August 2003 - five months after SCO launched its lawsuit against IBM. Red Hat maintains that SCO's claims are untrue and that SCO has engaged in "unfair and deceptive actions." But SCO put a positive spin on the decision, saying that it would allow it to "concentrate its legal resources toward its case against IBM."
The IBM case is presently scheduled to go to trial in April 2005, but SCO's motion asks that the date be changed to "approximately 15 September 2005".
The move to delay the trial came as no surprise to open source advocate Bruce Perens, who believes that SCO intends to drag out the lawsuit as long as possible. "From day one, everything they've been doing has been to delay this case," he said. "Swift resolution of the case is not to SCO's advantage because they're going to lose."
The delay in discovery came about because SCO has made unreasonable demands of IBM, Perens argued. "SCO is asking for things that were either impossible for IBM to provide or basically what SCO should not have been asking for," he said. "SCO asked for quite literally every version of Unix that IBM has made."