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Less Paperwork For IBM

IBM's plea for less paperwork worked, with Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells this week deferring 97 percent of the documentation required from a previous ruling.

In January, the judge ruled IBM must hand over all applicable documents from the 3,000 programmers who played the biggest part in developing the AIX and Dynix operating systems.

IBM subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration, saying "the parties did not fully brief, nor did the court fully understand," the burden of producing documents on 3,000 people.

The SCO Group is suing IBM for allegedly using its Unix code to beef up Linux kernel development efforts. SCO's case hinges on its ability to prove IBM misappropriated licensed Unix System V source code found in AIX and Dynix. The Lindon, Utah, software company terminated its System V license for AIX with IBM in June 2003 and Dynix in August 2003.

In Tuesday's ruling, Wells pared the 3,000 down to the top 100 individuals, stating it gives SCO lawyers enough information to compare against other documents IBM will be providing in the future. The ruling doesn't mean IBM is completely relieved from having produce information on the documents pertaining to the other 2,900 developers, only that Big Blue gained a deferment to avoid possible duplication of information presented.

"The court finds this appropriate because such information will provide a basis for SCO to compare what is in the files of individual developers, versus what is contained in the other materials produced by IBM," Wells stated in the court document. "Following this comparison, and in accordance with IBM's representation, SCO can then identify additional developers ...."

Wells is giving IBM 90 days from the date of the order to produce the information and a privilege log detailing any documents withheld.

She also reiterated a previous ruling that IBM provide information on all non-public contributions made to Linux, as well as publicly available information. SCO lawyers alleged, according to the document, that IBM was looking to modify its obligations and limit the information it produced.

Wells stated the arguments were premature because the discovery phase of the trial hasn't been completed. But she warned IBM lawyers that specific information included the names of developers working on Linux contributions, not just the name of the work group or team, was necessary.

"Such required information is inherent within the court's previous orders because it would be considered 'non-public' Linux information that is available to IBM," she stated.

IBM has 75 days to produce any such information.

"We are pleased with the U.S. magistrate judge's decision, which reaffirms the essential elements of her prior order," SCO officials said in a statement. "The court's decision should ensure that IBM now complies with its discovery obligations and will provide SCO with information important to the development of its case for trial. We look forward to presenting our case to a jury next year."

IBM officials were unavailable for comment at press time.