Open Source Smack-Down

Fans of the free Linux operating system should be popping champagne tonight. A judge has tossed out most of the claims in a case claiming Linux contained stolen code.
SCO Group (nasdaq: SCOX - news - people ), of Lindon, Utah, is suing IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people ), claiming IBM stole code from Unix, for which SCO holds some copyrights, and put it into Linux, which is distributed free. SCO is seeking billions in damages.
The case, filed in 2003, is scheduled for trial in 2007. But Wednesday night, in a blistering 39-page ruling, Magistrate Judge Brooke C. Wells of the United States District Court in Utah tossed out two-thirds of SCO’s claims against IBM.
Wells tossed the claims because SCO refused, after repeated requests, to provide specific details about which lines of code were stolen.
SCO claims it could not provide detailed information for these items because they involved “methods and concepts” rather than specific lines of code. IBM insisted that SCO should still be able to provide the relevant lines of code to show where the methods and concepts were stolen.
“SCO’s arguments are akin to SCO telling IBM, ‘Sorry, we are not going to tell you what you did wrong because you already know,’ ” Wells wrote in her ruling. “Given the amount of code that SCO has received in discovery the court finds it inexcusable that SCO is in essence still not placing all the details on the table. Certainly if an individual was stopped and accused of shoplifting after walking out of Neiman Marcus they would expect to be eventually told what they allegedly stole.”
Blake Stowell, a spokesman for SCO said, “Our legal team is reviewing the judge’s ruling and will determine our next steps in the near future.”
IBM officials declined to comment on the ruling.

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