IBM Corp has sent subpoenas to Microsoft Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and Baystar Capital II LP in a move that could either shed some light on its breach of contract case against SCO Group Inc, or further muddy the waters.
The four companies have been ordered to hand over documents and answer questions related to their involvement with Lindon, Utah-based SCO that could potentially answer some of the biggest questions that have been hanging since SCO launched its claims against IBM and the Linux operating system.
Hold on to your hats! wrote Pamela Jones on community legal web site Groklaw, which has been following SCO’s claims in detail since the case began in March 2003. I begin to think that every question we’ve had, we will finally get to know the answer.
The deposition of Microsoft and Baystar could prove particularly interesting. Baystar led a $50m funding round in SCO in 2003 and confirmed in March 2004 that it was encouraged to do so by senior Microsoft executives.
Meanwhile Microsoft also licensed Unix source code and unnamed patents from SCO in May 2003, ensuring that the company’s SCOsource intellectual property licensing business got off to a good start.
Although Baystar severed its ties with SCO in August 2004 IBM would like the company to hand over details related to its investment in and communication with SCO, as well as its communication with Microsoft related to SCO, IBM and the litigation.
IBM will also ask Microsoft about its communication with Baystar and SCO, as well as agreements between Microsoft and AT&T, USL, Novell, Santa Cruz Operation, and SCO Group, and Microsoft’s strategy related to Unix and Linux.
The deposition of Sun could also prove illuminating given SCO’s decision not to raise any legal challenges to Sun’s open source Solaris project while claiming that IBM’s donation of Unix code to Linux was in breach of a contract between the two.
IBM will ask Sun about its agreements with AT&T, USL, Novell, Santa Cruz Operation, and SCO, as well as the details of its OpenSolaris project, the involvement of Sun in the development of Linux, and Sun’s communications with SCO since June 2002, particularly regarding its rights related to Unix.
HP will be asked similar questions related to its communication with SCO, its agreements with AT&T, USL, Novell, Santa Cruz Operation, and SCO, and the origins of any Unix code released by HP under an open source license. In 2003 HP declared itself safe from litigation by SCO.
Meanwhile SCO has been explaining to the court why its wants to take deposition from Oracle, Intel and The Open Group, and in doing so has suggested that it might be about to attempt to open up an entirely new and somewhat unlikely line of attack against IBM.
According to a memo filed to support its motion for more time to depose the three organizations, SCO indicated that it is concerned that IBM misappropriated Unix technology from SCO and provided it to the Unix standards body, The Open Group, during the creation of the Single Unix Specification and the Unix Developer Guide Programmers Interface.