AutoZone Borrows SCOs Reasoning to Ask for a Stay

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-06-22

AutoZone Borrows SCOs Reasoning to Ask for a Stay

AutoZone, an auto parts chain that The SCO Group sued in March for allegedly violating SCOs Unix copyrights through its use of Linux, has asked for a stay of its case pending the resolution of SCOs cases with IBM as well as with Red Hat and Novell.

The motion quotes from SCOs own attempt to stay its case with Red Hat, in which SCO said "there is no doubt" that the IBM case will resolve threshold issues in the Red Hat case.

SCOs lawsuit against AutoZone accused the Memphis, Tenn.-based auto parts chain of "running versions of the Linux operating system that contain code, structure, sequence and/or organization from SCOs proprietary Unix System V code in violation of SCOs copyrights."

AutoZone Inc., which trades on Nasdaq and is a Fortune 500 member, was the first Linux-using company that The SCO Group Inc. sued after it had long promised that it would target Linux end-users in its legal fight against Linux.

Lindon, Utah-based SCO immediately followed its AutoZone suit by suing DaimlerChrysler AG in a Michigan state court both on Linux grounds and for Unix contract violations.

Click here to read about the differences in the two suits legal challenges.

AutoZone first answered SCOs lawsuit against it in U.S. District Court in Utah by filing a response on April 23.

In AutoZones motion to stay, filed June 4 and here in PDF form, it argues that SCO "has effectively conceded in the Red Hat litigation that AutoZone is entitled to a stay of SCOs claims."

Quoting directly from SCOs own successful attempt in a Delaware court to delay its case with Red Hat, AutoZone said, "There is no doubt that, as it is presently constituted, the IBM case will address central issues raised in [the Red Hat] lawsuit.

"Therefore, it would be a waste of judicial resources, and the resources of the parties, to litigate [the Red Hat] case while a substantially similar question is being litigated in federal district court in Utah," continues the SCO statement quoted in the motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada by AutoZones attorneys from Schreck Brignone and Alston & Bird LLP.

Next Page: An attorney says AutoZone makes a "very compelling argument."

Compelling Argument

Glenn Peterson, an intellectual property attorney and a shareholder with the Sacramento, Calif.-based law firm McDonough Holland & Allen PC, said AutoZone is smart to base its argument on SCOs words.

"AutoZone makes a very compelling argument for a stay of this case and has forged its strongest argument from SCOs own words, quoted from SCOs briefs in the Red Hat case where they argue, conversely, in favor of a stay," Peterson said.

"SCOs argument in favor of a stay of the Red Hat case but at the same time against a stay of the AutoZone case is very damaging to their credibility.

"As AutoZone wryly states, how can SCO contend that there is no doubt that the IBM case will resolve threshold issues in the Red Hat case yet deny the same in this case ... [especially] in light of the fact that SCOs claims against AutoZone relate to AutoZones use of a version of Linux that AutoZone obtained from Red Hat.

"Thus, SCO supports a stay of the case against the main Linux distributor but opposes the stay against that same distributors customer. The position taken by SCO in the Red Hat lawsuit does not harmonize at all with its position against AutoZone. In fact, it harmonizes about as well as fingernails on a chalkboard," Peterson said.

Nevertheless, he said, "Whether or not to stay a lawsuit depends heavily on the discretion of the judge, so there is really no such thing as a slam dunk on these motions. That said, AutoZones arguments are so compelling that it should be at least an uncontested layup."

SCO had no comment on AutoZone request to stay its case. But in court, according to the request for a stay, "SCOs principal argument in opposition to AutoZones motion is that it will suffer irreparable harm if the case is stayed."

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