No More Mr. Nice IBM

IBM is fighting back against SCO and, Linux and Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols says, Big Blue isn't pulling any punches with its latest moves.

SCO has been hammering at IBM for months now, but IBM isnt going to take it quietly anymore: IBM filed in court a "Reply Memorandum in Support of its Motion to Compel Discovery." And you thought technology jargon could be a mouthful!

The most important paragraph of the Reply Memorandum spells out what many of us have been saying for a while.

"Put bluntly, SCOs public relations efforts are at odds with its conduct in this litigation. SCO has made repeated, public accusations of IBMs supposed misconduct, while refusing to disclose its alleged evidence to IBM. Either SCO has evidence to support its accusations or it does not. If it does, IBM is entitled to see it now; if it does not, IBM will be entitled to dismissal of this case. In any event, it is time for SCO to respond properly (although belatedly) to IBMs discovery requests."

Let me translate that for you: Put up or shut up about IBM stealing code.

SCO replied back, accusing IBM of entering into a conspiracy with other unnamed Linux developers and distributors to destroy the Unix market. Thats funny. I had thought the Unix market had done a pretty good job of destroying itself long ago. More to the point, this being SCO, the firms lawyers dont name those dastardly villains who joined with IBM to promote Linux and destroy Unix.

Every time I think Ive heard it all from SCO, they come up with a new howler. Folks, look at SCOs own corporate history. Until March of this year, Caldera/SCO was one of the leading lights of Linux. The only major business consortium that has ever sprung from Linux is UnitedLinux, and guess what? SCO was not only a founding member, its still a member! Can you conspire against yourself?


Getting back on track, SCO gave its usual explanations as to why it cant show the stolen source code and believed that should have been that. But its now been revealed that on Oct. 30 IBM upped the stakes. IBM subpoenaed not SCO, but Baystar Capital, Deutsche Bank, Renaissance Ventures and Yankee Group. The first three are investment firms, and Yankee Group is a research house. What they have in common is that, to some extent, they have all been favorable to SCO.

Yankee was probably targeted because Yankee analyst Laura DiDiois is one of the very few analysts who signed SCOs infamous nondisclosure agreement (NDA), which enabled her to view SCOs source code evidence. So IBM lawyers can claim that she knows at least some of the materials, which SCO is refusing to let IBM see. I can safely presume that IBM believes the other companies also have some kind of inside information about SCO and thats why IBM is targeting them.

SCO is protesting IBMs moves strongly. The immediate result is that SCOs stock dropped almost 9 percent on heavy trading on Nov. 11.

I wasnt surprised by this drop. With Novell getting into the Linux business, and not showing a lick of fear about any SCO legal repercussions; SCOs former CEO joining Progeny Linux Systems; and IBM deciding its time to raise the stakes and see if SCO folds, things are looking bad for SCO.

It appears to me that SCO has been bluffing higher and higher since the company launched its case in March. Now IBM, the IT businesses and the market are beginning to call its bluff. SCO may not want to show its code cards yet, but one way or the other the Utah company is going to have to show something if it wants to stay in the game.

Discuss this in the eWEEK forum Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about Unix and Linux since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.