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Court orders SCO to show more code

The SCO Group is told to specify what code in Linux infringes on its intellectual property, giving momentum to its legal tug-of-war with IBM over the open-source software.

A judge on Wednesday ordered both the SCO Group and IBM to reveal more information in their legal tangle over Linux and Unix, including the code SCO believes infringes on its intellectual property.

In a ruling filed in the U.S. District Court in Utah, Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells said SCO hasn't yet provided enough information about its charges that IBM moved proprietary Unix software to Linux. In consequence, she ordered the company to "provide and identify all specific lines of code that IBM is alleged to have contributed to Linux from either AIX or Dynix," IBM's two versions of Unix.

The judge also directed SCO to "identify with specificity all lines of code in Linux that it claims rights to," repeating an order she issued in December. In addition, she told SCO to identify the lines of code in Unix System V that were used by IBM to create derivative works in AIX and Dynix, which were transferred to Linux.

At the same time, Wells lifted a stay on the information IBM was required to release through the discovery process that preceded the trial. She ordered IBM to produce memos from IBM Chief Executive Sam Palmisano and from Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a top Linux executive.

The move restores momentum to a case many consider central not just to the future of Linux, an increasingly popular open-source operating system, but to lawsuits SCO filed this week against AutoZone and DaimlerChrysler.

"Now the case is really going to get down to the nitty-gritty," said David Schlitz, the head of the litigation group at the intellectual property law firm Burns, Doane, Swecker & Mathis. "Now what you will see is that SCO has to come up with the specifics."

However, Schlitz added that the lines of code and memos aren't likely to see the light of day. "It's all going to be covered by the protective order," he said.

SCO seeks more than $5 billion in damages from IBM, which denies wrongdoing and has countersued for patent infringement and over other claims.

SCO, which in 2003 scrapped its own Linux sales effort after failing to make financial headway, wants Linux customers to pay $699 for a license that will let them use the software without fear of an intellectual property infringement lawsuit from SCO. The Lindon, Utah-based company announced its first public SCO IP licensee on Monday,

SCO and IBM representatives declined to comment on Wells' order.

Big Blue was also ordered by Wells to produce extensive information, including 232 files from Dynix and AIX, and to identify all of its nonpublic contributions to Linux. (SCO itself is charged with identifying all public contributions.)

IBM must also supply any memos, reports and other documents relating to its Linux strategy, the judge said. In addition, IBM was ordered to pare down a list of 7,200 potential witnesses for the trial to 1,000 of the most important prospective witnesses.