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SCO Dented by Dismissal of DaimlerChrysler Suit

By Elizabeth Millard
Jul 22, 2004 10:34 AM PT

A Michigan judge has dismissed the SCO Group's lawsuit against automobile maker DaimlerChrysler.

SCO Dented by Dismissal of DaimlerChrysler Suit

DaimlerChrysler had brought several motions for summary disposition in the case, and Michigan Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot ruled Wednesday in favor of all but one of them. The exception concerns the amount of time it took for DaimlerChrysler to respond to a letter from SCO requesting license compliance.

The case is one of several being brought by The SCO Group, which will continue its battles against IBM, Novell and AutoZone.

The ruling comes a week after the judge in the AutoZone case granted the defendant's request to have the case stayed. The effect of both rulings is not immediately apparent for future lawsuits, but some observers have speculated that it will make it harder for SCO to use the threat of litigation against other companies.

Legal Eagles

SCO brought the lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler in March, alleging that the company had not shown compliance with its SCO contract in using the Unix operating system.

In April, DaimlerChrysler provided a certification stating that it was not using the software any longer, and it moved to dismiss the suit.

The case stems from SCO's action in sending out letters to 3,000 corporate Unix licensees in December in which the software maker asked companies to demonstrate compliance within 30 days. According to its filing in court, SCO noted that DaimlerChrysler took 110 days to respond.

Also in March, SCO sued AutoZone, arguing that the auto parts retailer infringed on Unix copyrights through its use of Linux.

The results of both cases are being watched closely for indications of future actions that could be taken by SCO. Many observers believe that if SCO was triumphant in winning damages from DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone, the company would have the upper hand when pursuing other firms.

Still Confident

Despite the setback, SCO is still optimistic about its other suits and future legal outcomes.

SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell told LinuxInsider: "At this stage, we're at the halfway point in the IBM case. We're between where we started with the original filing and when the case will come to trial."

After numerous motions regarding the IBM case, the trial date is set for November 2005. This may change if the judge decides to grant IBM's motion for a summary judgment, which would effectively end the case in trial court. Oral arguments in that motion will be heard on August 4th.

"We're going through discovery and fact gathering right now," Stowell said. "We're pleased with how things have progressed to this point, and we're looking forward to taking this to the next level."

Long Haul

The twists and turns of SCO's legal wrangling is much discussed in the media and on blogs throughout the Internet, but Jeff Norman, intellectual property partner at the Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis, said those looking for fast action and swift resolutions will have a long wait.

"It's funny to see how impatient people are," he said. "I can understand that frustration, but in America everybody gets their day in court, especially if they hire expensive lawyers."

He noted that the magnitude of the SCO cases, which involve millions of lines of code, entails a level of complexity that could take a long time to unravel. Norman predicted that if IBM's summary judgment motion is denied, the case could take years to play out.

Although the DaimlerChrysler case has been dismissed, Norman noted that in the other cases, judges' motions should not be taken as indications of which side might win.

"I've seen cases where the judge consistently rules against a side's motions, and then rules for that side," he said. "The only thing that matters is the final judgment."

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