IBM Subpoenas Microsoft About SCO

    February 22, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The long legal feud between IBM and SCO over alleged infringement of source code owned by SCO took a dramatic step in its discovery phase.

IBM subpoenaed a quartet of tech companies to give testimony as it defends against SCO’s claims that source code from SCO made its way into the version of Linux that IBM distributes. Microsoft, Sun, Hewlett-Packard, and BayStar all have March appointments to provide more information about those companies and their dealings with SCO.

The Groklaw website has followed the case closely virtually since it began. The site’s secretive author, Pamela Jones, wrote about the news with the kind of excitement normally associated with small children, puppies, and Christmas morning:

Hold on to your hats! IBM has subpoenaed Microsoft! And Sun! At last, we’re getting to the core of the matter. We’re going to get to find out the whole story. I’d pay for this.

…IBM would like to have [Sun] testify about such matters as “restrictions or prohibitions on Sun employees having access to any UNIX product, including, but not limited to, its source code.” And they’d like to hear all about all communications between Sun and SCO since June 28, 2002 (isn’t that the date Darl joined SCO as CEO?)…

…IBM would like Baystar to hand over documents about any communication between Baystar and Microsoft regarding SCO, IBM or the SCO v IBM litigation…

Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft. Do tell IBM all about any agreements between Microsoft and SCO, and all communications or agreements relating to SCO or this litigation, including all communications between Microsoft and SCO since June 28, 2002, including [SCO CEO Darl McBride’s] communication in May of 2003 “with Steven Ballmer regarding SCO’s rights to the UNIX operating system”.

As for HP, IBM would like to see their contract licensing them to use UNIX. They’d like to know about any restrictions on employees having access to UNIX source code and all documents concerning “any agreements relating to any Hewlett-Packard software product involving Hewlett-Packard and AT&T, USL, Novell, Santa Cruz, Tarantella, or SCO.”

IBM’s defense against SCO could bring some uncomfortable relationships to light. Microsoft and Sun both paid SCO for Unix licenses; H-P’s contracts with SCO are not known. BayStar’s involvement reportedly began with Microsoft referring SCO to them; BayStar later arranged a $50 million investment in SCO, CNet reported.

Suspicions have been voiced in the past about Microsoft and SCO, with Microsoft allegedly supporting SCO’s legal actions from behind the scenes. Those actions would help slow down Linux adoption in the lucrative enterprise market due to legal concerns.

Confirmation of those allegations would be “explosive stuff” indeed.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.