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A federal judge has ordered the SCO Group to produce evidence supporting its claim that International Business Machines Corp. violated a license agreement by giving away the Utah company’s code for use in the Linux operating system. U.S. Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells on Friday gave Lindon-based SCO until Jan. 23 to show where and how IBM’s Linux contributions misappropriated SCO’s proprietary Unix code. SCO is seeking up to $50 billion in damages in the lawsuit, which was filed in March. SCO’s claims have rattled supporters of Linux, an operating system developed by a worldwide community of programmers with the understanding that it be freely distributed. If SCO succeeds, Linux users could be held liable for any violations as the software’s low cost and reliability make it a popular alternative to proprietary operating systems like Microsoft Windows. SCO has said it will target Linux users and is already trying to collect licensing fees, even though critics of its actions claim it has not fully explained how Linux infringes on its intellectual property. That could change next month. “IBM has said all along that SCO has failed to show evidence to back its claims,” IBM spokesman Mike Darcy said. “We are pleased that the court has indicated it will compel SCO to finally back up its claims instead of relying on marketplace fear, uncertainty and doubt.” SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said the company earlier had provided information about the alleged code misappropriations, but it would now turn over extensively detailed evidence. “We made claims we felt were pretty obvious to them, but they wanted us to be more specific, to go through and show specific lines of code in Linux … right down to the brass tacks, so to speak,” he said. SCO says it owns rights to the Unix operating system, which was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by AT&T. SCO’s predecessor company, Santa Cruz Operation, acquired the rights in 1995. Shares in SCO rose 39 cents to close at $15.66 in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. SCO also is delaying an earnings report scheduled for Friday, saying it will instead release fourth-quarter earnings on Dec. 22. It cited the broadened accounting demands associated with its private placement of $50 million of Series A convertible preferred stock in October to, at least in part, cover costs of its Linux-related litigation. The company insists the delay will not affect revenues still expected to range between $22 million and $25 million. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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