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SCO slapped in latest round of eternal 'Who owns UNIX?' lawsuit

Win for IBM as Judge rules attempt to move case away from contract law is a no-no

The SCO Group has suffered another reversal in its long-running attempt to squeeze some cash out of IBM for allegedly pinching its code and tossing it into Linux and maybe AIX too.

The case has run since 2003, when SCO was called Caldera, and has survived SCO's bankruptcy and all manner of legal shenanigans. SCO keeps finding a way to keep itself alive enough to pursue the case, which last July found its way onto the docket of the US District Court's Utah outpost.

Judge David Nuffer heard the case and last week issued a judgement (PDF) dredged up by the indefatigable Groklaw, which now records some 1,159 incidents in the case.

The new judgement, on The Register's reading, falls in IBM's favour because SCO's attempt to seek remedy for Unfair Competition have failed on grounds that IBM's actions are covered by another SCO claim for breach of contract. Judge Nuffer wrote that he can find no way for SCO to flip the contract claim into a tort claim. Nor does the Judge feel that SCO can “use a later-enacted portion of the Utah Code that was not offered as a basis for this claim or create a joint venture or fiduciary relationship from an otherwise arm’s-length contract between two sophisticated business entities.”

Or in other words: Nice try, SCO, but your arguments haven't flown.

This isn't over, though, because SCO is still trying to get IBM on grounds of tortious interference with a contract and tortious interference with a prospective business relationship. IBM has counterclaims running on other aspects of the case.

Why would IBM sue a zombie company? To deter its funders from tying it up in court. And why do SCO's backers keep it alive? Because if it eventually scores a win, the Linux market is so huge it will score a lovely big cheque.

The case kicked off in March 2003, so its 13th birthday is next month. That's enough time to put a child through a complete primary and secondary education and, for any lawyer who worked the case throughout, probably also enough time to accumulate a handsome college fund too! ®

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