SCO, IBM trade subpoenas as they seek Linux details

Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, is among those subpoenaed

Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system, is among the recipients of a flurry of subpoenas recently filed by IBM and The SCO Group Inc. as their seven-month-long legal battle continues.

Spokesmen for IBM and Lindon, Utah-based SCO confirmed that subpoenas went out from both sides as they seek information to plot their legal fights.

Torvalds was subpoenaed by SCO, which in March filed a $1 billion lawsuit against IBM, alleging that IBM illegally contributed some of SCO's System V Unix code to the Linux development project. In August, IBM countersued SCO alleging patent infringement.

In an e-mail reply to Computerworld, Torvalds said today that he received the subpoena yesterday while eating dinner. "I don't know how these things work, and I will have to get a lawyer to tell me what to do," he said.

SCO also sent subpoenas to:

  • Richard Stallman, author of the GNU General Public License (GPL) and founder of the Free Software Foundation.
  • Stuart Cohen, CEO of the nonprofit Open Source Development Labs Inc. (OSDL) in Beaverton, Ore., which supports the use and development of Linux in business computing.
  • John Horsley, legal counsel for Transmeta Corp., where Torvalds previously worked before joining the OSDL this year as its first-ever fellow.

Also subpoenaed are unnamed executives from vendors Novell Inc. and Digeo PLC.

"We're seeking information from these individuals because of their recognized leadership roles in the evolution of Linux," a SCO spokesman said today. "We believe that their technical views will help to illuminate important issues related to the development of Linux and the validity of the GPL."

IBM's subpoenas were sent Oct. 30 to BayStar Capital, which invested $50 million in SCO last month, as well as to Deutsche Bank Group, Renaissance Ventures and research firm The Yankee Group.

In a statement, IBM said the subpoenas went out to try to move SCO's claims out into the open, which IBM says has not yet happened. "It is time for SCO to produce something meaningful," IBM said. "They have been dragging their feet and it is not clear there is any incentive for SCO to try this in court."

A SCO spokesman called IBM's selection of subpoena targets "interesting."

"While citing a desire to understand what specific parts of Linux code are involved in this case, [IBM] has not chosen to subpoena any technical experts, but instead has subpoenaed those who have made investments in The SCO Group, along with one industry analyst who has said only that SCO's case should be taken seriously," the SCO spokesman said. "In some ways, IBM's list of subpoenas look less like an effort to unravel the critical technical issues of the case and more like an effort to intimidate SCO investors."


Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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