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SCO swings back at Red Hat

The controversial software maker files a motion to dismiss the Linux company's lawsuit, claiming the company has no grounds for action.

Controversial software seller The SCO Group fired back against Linux leader Red Hat on Monday, filing a motion to dismiss the Linux company's suit against SCO.

In a motion filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Delaware, SCO argued that Red Hat has no grounds to sue SCO, as SCO's actions against the open-source Linux operating system have not specifically targeted Red Hat.

"Red Hat's legal action does nothing more than seek general guidance for the marketplace as to the legal rights SCO has with respect to Linux software," according to the motion. "This is an impermissible use of the Declaratory Judgment Act."

SCO rattled the technology world early this year by filing a $3 billion lawsuit against IBM, claiming that the computing giant illegally incorporated into its Linux software source code from the Unix operating system, which SCO controls. SCO further riled the Linux community by sending letters to 1,500 information technology managers, warning them that any use of Linux could expose them to intellectual property suits. SCO tried to capitalize on its claims when it unveiled a licensing plan for businesses that wish to continue using Linux with SCO's blessing.

Red Hat responded by suing SCO, claiming that SCO's actions have been a ploy to discredit Linux and harm Red Hat and others looking to promote the open-source software. The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that Red Hat has not violated SCO's copyrights or trade secrets; an injunction barring SCO from continuing its assertions that Red Hat's Linux violates SCO's intellectual property; and compensation for damages caused by unfair competition, false advertising, unfair and deceptive trade practices and "interference with prospective economic advantage."

"SCO's claims are not true and are solely designed to create an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and doubt about Linux," according to Red Hat's suit. "SCO's campaign is designed to both slow the growth of Linux and to reverse its failing fortunes by convincing Linux users they need to pay SCO a license fee to use the lower-cost Linux operating system."

In its responding motion, SCO says its actions are protected by, among other rights, First Amendment protections of free speech. "Any governmental interest served under the Lanham Act (one of the foundations of U.S. intellectual property law) is heavily outweighed by fundamental governmental interests in protecting copyright interests, ensuring full and free access to courts, providing litigation immunity, promoting judicial economy and fairness in litigation, and safeguarding freedom of speech and the press," according to SCO's motion.

SCO's filing also attacks Red Hat's request for a declaratory judgment clearing Red Hat of any violations of SCO's copyrights. Because SCO and Red Hat have no contractual relationship, the motion argues, there is no "actual controversy" meriting judicial intervention. Furthermore, Red Hat has shown no evidence that it is likely to be sued by SCO.

"Red Hat's real motive for filing suit against SCO was to somehow vindicate the entire Linux industry," according to the SCO motion.

Representatives for SCO and Red Hat were not immediately available for comment.