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Judge to SCO: No Suit for You!

Unix system vendor The SCO Group yesterday effectively lost another round in its controversial fight to enjoin what it claims is misuse of its source code, with a federal judge saying SCO has no valid cause to demand that customer DaimlerChrysler AG conduct a licenses audit.

But the issue here may be even bigger: The DaimlerChrysler suit is a key test of SCO's legal strategy, and its failure to win over the judge in this case might be an early indication that its strategy is backfiring, some experts say. SCO has pursued a broad-based legal strategy of claiming rights to many pieces of code derived from its own brand of Unix, including pieces of Linux.

Officials of SCO said their compliance request was a standard annual procedure to ensure the safety of their intellectual property, which DaimlerChrysler originally licensed from prior Unix code owner AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) in 1990. But officials at the automaker, commenting on yesterday's summary judgment, said they haven't even used the SCO software in more than seven years.

This may be a common trend among SCO's customers, say analysts, customers, and lawyers watching the case. Meanwhile, SCO's legal costs are mounting, and its stock price plummeted recently into the $4 range, after hitting $20 in January.

NDCF contacted several companies featured prominently on SCO's homepage, including the Seattle Mariners baseball team, which is the first customer listed on the page: "5 Reasons to Choose Unix over Linux." However, like DaimlerChrysler, the ball club (now deeply mired in last place) says it no longer even uses SCO, according to Larry Witherspoon, director of information systems. Similarly, use of SCO has diminished at Pearle Vision, IT worker Judy Johnson says.

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