SCO and Red Hat Case Goes Into Hibernation

Red Hat and SCO's case will wait until SCO vs. IBM is resolved, which might be sooner than SCO wants if IBM gets its way and the courts give it a summary judgment.

Far from the limelight of the Utah court where IBM battles with The SCO Group Inc. over Linuxs copyrights, Red Hat Inc. has been seeking to block SCO from interfering with its business by SCOs continually stating that Linux violated SCOs Unix copyrights in the U.S. District Court in Delaware. Last week, on April 6, Judge Sue L. Robinson issued an order that denied SCOs motion to dismiss Red Hats case. But at the same time, she stayed the case pending the outcome of SCO vs. IBM.

Red Hat had asked for a declarative judgment that it had not infringed SCOs copyrights or its trade secrets. Red Hat also charged SCO with violating the Lanham Act, accusing it of unfair advertising and acting in bad faith. In short, Red Hat charged that SCO is engaged in a campaign to create fear, uncertainty and doubt.

SCO, of course, counterattacked. SCO CEO and President Darl McBride said at the time, "We have been educating end users on the risks of running an operating system that is an unauthorized derivative of Unix."

Now, though, that the judge has declared that "the core issue of whether the Linux system contains any misappropriated Unix system source code" must be decided. "It is a waste of judicial resources to have two district courts resolving the same issue, especially when the first filed suit in Utah involves the primary parties to the dispute," the judge wrote in a memorandum order.

Some SCO case experts, such as Pamela Jones of Groklaw, believe that Red Hat could appeal the stay. "I believe they probably could if they decide they want to," she said. When asked about this, though, Red Hat representative Leigh Day declined to comment.

Stacey Quandt, principal analyst at Quandt Analytics, thinks that Red Hat could better spend its time on other matters. "With customers taking a critical eye to varying Linux indemnification programs, which contract the service and support relationship to companies like [Hewlett-Packard Co.] and Novell [Inc.], the disinterest in Red Hats per-CPU pricing, widespread customer dissatisfaction on the end-of-life support for Red Hat 9, and the challenge to grow subscriptions to Red Hat Network and maintain customer loyalty, Red Hats legal issue, while important with SCO, pales in [comparison with regards to its] long-term significance," Quandt said.

Blake Stowell, SCOs public-relations director, sees the Delaware court decision as a partial victory for SCO. "Although the court did not honor SCOs motion to dismiss the Red Hat vs. SCO case, by ruling that the case should be stayed, the judge recognized that many of the issues in the Red Hat vs. SCO case will be addressed in the SCO vs. IBM case," Stowell said. This means that by staying the Red Hat vs. SCO case, "SCO can now concentrate its legal resources toward its case against IBM," Stowell continued. "We look forward to having our issues heard before a jury in the U.S. District court of Utah in 2005."

If IBM has its way, however, a jury wont see the case. On Monday, IBM, in response to SCOs request that the trial be divided into two cases—a separate case for IBMs claims that SCO has violated its patents—indicated that it will ask for a summary judgment.

By this, IBM is indicating that it believes that SCO simply doesnt have a case and that the Utah court should dismiss it as soon as possible.

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