SCO Group legal target AutoZone has been granted a stay in its ongoing copyright infringement case, pushing SCO’s claims that Linux contains its Unix code further from court.
The judge hearing the case granted Memphis, Tennessee-based AutoZone’s motion that the case be stayed until after the completion of SCO’s contract and copyright lawsuit against IBM.
The AutoZone case has been stayed indefinitely with 90-day status updates, although Lindon, Utah-based SCO has been granted 30 days for limited discovery to obtain factual evidence for a potential request for a preliminary injunction.
SCO sued IBM in March 2003 when it accused it of infringing its intellectual property and copying Unix System V code to the Linux operating system, but dropped that claim in February in favor of claims that IBM breached contract by contributing code from its AIX and Dynix Unix flavors to Linux and breached copyright by continuing to ship AIX and Dynix after SCO withdrew its Unix license.
In March, IBM requested a declaratory judgment that IBM does not infringe, induce infringement of, or contribute to the infringement of any SCO copyright through its Linux activities, including its use, reproduction and improvement of Linux.
SCO argued that the issues raised by that request would be better dealt with in its case against AutoZone, which it sued in March 2004. However, it is not only the delay to the AutoZone case that is pushing the Linux claims further from court, but also SCO’s characterization of its case against AutoZone.
Outlining for the judge how the AutoZone case differed from its case against IBM, David Stone of SCO’s law firm Boies, Schiller and Flexner stated: End users of Linux who have previously been SCO customers, such as AutoZone, which used Open Server, are migrating to Linux. There are many issues which can arise in this migration process which don’t necessarily have to do with what’s in Linux.
This appeared to suggest that SCO’s problem with AutoZone is not so much Linux as the way in which the auto-parts retailer is using it, a suggestion that Stone repeated by stating that it was SCO’s belief that AutoZone had violated the copyright of its OpenServer libraries in migrating to Linux, as opposed to violating its Unix copyright by running Linux.
Nevertheless, US District Judge Robert Jones granted AutoZone’s motion to stay pending the IBM case. The next movement in that case is expected to occur on August 4 when a hearing will be heard to discuss IBM’s request for a declaratory judgment that its Linux activities do not infringe SCO’s copyright as well as SCO’s motion that the declaratory judgment be dismissed or stayed until the completion of the AutoZone case.
Whatever happens it appears that SCO’s public claims that Linux contains Unix System V copyright code are unlikely to be heard in court for some time.