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IBM Won't Oppose SCO's Copyright Claim

IBM has told a U.S. court it won't oppose a motion by the SCO Group to add copyright infringement claims to the latter's Linux lawsuit against Big Blue.

"IBM does not oppose plaintiff's [SCO's] motion," attorneys for the company wrote in papers filed the United States Court for the Central District of Utah. However, in its filing, IBM called the SCO copyright allegations "meritless" and said it would defend itself against them.

The filing comes as both sides await a ruling on whether SCO will be able to include copyright infringement claims to its ongoing $3 billion lawsuit against IBM that seeks to challenge parts of Linux code. At presstime, IBM hadn't returned a call for comment about the motion.

However, legal observers have indicated that a plaintiff's motion to add claims to a lawsuit is unlikely to be denied by a judge, which could explain why IBM has filed a motion that essentially seeks to move the issue along in the legal process.

"Although IBM's statement regarding our amended claim may help its acceptance, the court must ultimately weigh in on the matter and will make the final decision. Until that time, we have no comment," SCO spokesman Marc Modersitzki told internetnews.com.

Shortly after it registered for a copyright on its Unix V code, SCO filed motions to have copyright infringement claims added to its ongoing $3 billion lawsuit against IBM that seeks to challenge some parts of Linux code as derivative of Unix.

The infringement claims, if they are allowed by a judge reviewing the matter, could potentially increase the size of damages SCO is claiming in the dispute by another $2 billion.

The original lawsuit against IBM alleged that IBM shared trade secrets regarding Unix with members of the free software community. It also charged IBM with a contract violation, alleging that it let parts of SCO's Unix V operating system slip into the Linux open source operating system.

SCO has laid out its new copyright contentions in court paper by stating:

"SCO is the owner of copyright rights to Unix software, source code, programming tools, documentation ... and derivative works thereof. These materials are covered by numerous copyright registrations."

The complaint goes on to include a table listing 14 different Unix code releases and operating manuals. The list includes items such as "Unix operating system edition 5 and instruction manual," "Unixware 7.1.3," and "Unix system V release 4.2."

The dispute between SCO and IBM has been stalled for the past two weeks as both sides await a ruling regarding complex legal issues surrounding "discovery" in the case.

Essentially, each side has been seeking to compel the other to produce internal documents relating to the Unix code at issue.

Currently, discovery motions are suspended while IBM waits for SCO to provide documents which back up its claim that IBM misappropriated code from Unix System V and used it to bolster Linux kernel development.

SCO is also currently engaged in separate Linux suits against Red Hat and Novell.

In the latter action, filed in January, SCO alleges that Novell improperly filed Unix copyright registrations. It also charges Novell with making false public statements regarding the ownership of Unix and UnixWare.

Separately, SCO has threatened legal action against companies that deploy Linux if they don't pay licensing fees for parts of the free operating system that SCO claims comes from its Unix code.