SCO Dented by Dismissal of DaimlerChrysler Suit

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

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

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

The ruling comes a week after the judge in the AutoZone case granted thedefendant’s request to have the case stayed. The effect of both rulingsis not immediately apparent for future lawsuits, but some observers havespeculated that it will make it harder for SCO to use the threat oflitigation against other companies.

Legal Eagles

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

In April, DaimlerChrysler provided a certification stating that it wasnot using the software any longer, and it moved to dismiss the suit.

The case stems from SCO’s action in sending out letters to 3,000corporate Unix licensees in December in which the software maker askedcompanies to demonstrate compliance within 30 days. According to itsfiling in court, SCO noted that DaimlerChrysler took 110 days torespond.

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

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

Still Confident

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

SCO spokesperson Blake Stowell told LinuxInsider: “At this stage, we’reat the halfway point in the IBM case. We’re between where we startedwith the original filing and when the case will come to trial.”

After numerous motions regarding the IBM case, the trial date is set forNovember 2005. This may change if the judge decides to grantIBM’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 themedia 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 understandthat 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 oflines of code, entails a level of complexity that could take a longtime to unravel. Norman predicted that if IBM’s summary judgment motionis denied, the case could take years to play out.

Although the DaimlerChrysler case has been dismissed, Norman noted thatin the other cases, judges’ motions should not be taken as indicationsof which side might win.

“I’ve seen cases where the judge consistently rules against a side’smotions, and then rules for that side,” he said. “The only thing thatmatters is the final judgment.”

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