SCO has suffered a setback in one of its lesser fights over Unix and Linux intellectual property rights, but lawyers believe that the ruling is unlikely materially to affect its higher profile cases against Novell and IBM.
A Michigan judge yesterday granted DaimlerChrysler's request for dismissal in the case brought by SCO Group for Unix contract violation, in all but one minor matter.
SCO filed the lawsuit in March, maintaining that the car manufacturer had not supplied a "certification of compliance" showing that it had continued to comply with the terms of its Unix contract.
But in April DaimlerChrysler submitted copies of two letters to SCO, one stating that it no longer used the SCO Unix software it had licensed in 1990 and another saying that it had no right to seek such certification.
Judge Ray Lee Chabot rejected SCO's argument that its failure to supply the Unix compliance certification beforehand was a violation of the Unix contract, and ruled that DaimlerChrysler's current use of Linux did not alter that fact.
The one outstanding issue is whether SCO suffered damages as a result of the delay in receiving the letters.
SCO issued a statement effectively accepting the ruling. "SCO is satisfied with the outcome of this litigation now that DaimlerChrysler has certified its compliance," the company said.
But SCO has so far declined to comment on whether it will pursue the damages claim.
Roger Bickerstaffe, joint head of the IT law group at Bird and Bird, told vnunet.com: "I do not see this as being hugely negative for SCO.
"The onus was on DaimlerChrysler to notify SCO but it is pretty peripheral and does not impinge on the main cases with IBM and Novell."
Bickerstaffe added that SCO had requested a very high level of detail in its certification compliance requests.
"It all looked a bit over the top. DaimlerChrysler has not given this level of detail but it has been accepted," he said.
SCO defended its reason for bringing the case in the first place, saying: "After repeated attempts to request their certification, and after receiving no response, SCO filed litigation against DaimlerChrysler in March 2004.
"It was only after SCO had filed its litigation that DaimlerChrysler decided to respond that they were still in compliance with their software agreement.
"They certified their compliance three and a half months after SCO sent out its original letter."
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