AutoZone Wins Brief Stay in SCO Copyright Case

A federal judge grants the auto parts chain's request to delay the case, but only for 90 days-during which SCO can start conducting discovery and depositions as it aims to prove that AutoZone infringed on its Unix copyrights.

A federal judge on Monday denied AutoZones request to transfer its copyright case with The SCO Group from Nevada to a Memphis, Tenn., court, but he also granted a limited stay to the auto parts chain.

The SCO Group Inc. in March filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against AutoZone Inc. in the U.S. District Court of Nevada, claiming that AutoZone violated copyrights on SCOs proprietary Unix System V technology through the use of Linux. SCO sought to receive compensation for damages and to enjoin any further use by AutoZone of what SCO claims is the protected Unix technology contained within Linux.

AutoZone in April filed a response to SCOs lawsuit requesting that the Nevada court stay the case and transfer it to Memphis, where AutoZone is headquartered. AutoZone also filed a motion for a more definite statement.

AutoZone borrowed SCOs own reasoning when it later asked for a stay in its case pending the resolution of SCOs cases with IBM as well as with Red Hat and Novell.

In SCOs own attempt to stay its case with Red Hat, it said "there is no doubt" that the IBM case will resolve threshold issues in the Red Hat case.

While Judge Robert C. Jones did grant AutoZones motion for staying the case, he added the exception that SCO will have 60 days to conduct discovery and 30 days to conduct depositions. Following this 90-day stay, the judge said SCO would have the option of filing a preliminary injunction in the case.

Lastly, the judge stayed AutoZones motion for a more definite statement.

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

AutoZone had used SCOs OpenServer Unix until 2001, when it started to switch over to Red Hat Linux. AutoZone completed its migration to Linux in 2002.

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

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about DaimlerChryslers motion to dismiss the case.

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

But Blake Stowell, director of communications at SCO, said the judges exceptions gave a green light to the company to start its discovery process.

"If you look at what the judge stated, it certainly opened the door for SCO to start the discovery process and collect depositions and then, based on what we found, to possibly file for a preliminary judgment," Stowell said. "So, with this in mind, we welcomed the stay based on these exceptions, and we look forward to conducting the discovery and depositions in this case."

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