A key legal case in the claim by US firm SCO to own key parts of Linux has been largely dismissed.
On Wednesday a Michigan county court judge threw out almost every claim SCO had made against car maker DaimlerChrysler.
SCO launched the lawsuit alleging that DaimlerChrysler had violated agreements to use the Unix operating system over which the software firm claims ownership.
But in a hearing that took barely 20 minutes, the judge said the only charge DaimlerChrysler had to prove was why it took them so long to tell SCO that they had complied with licence agreements.
SCO launched the legal case against DaimlerChrysler in March seeking damages for the licence violations.
DaimlerChrysler replied in April, saying that it did not provide exhaustive information about its use of Unix as SCO had demanded because it had not used the software for years.
SCO has sought licence payments from companies
Once it provided some of the information SCO required, DaimlerChrysler launched a legal bid to have the case dismissed.
On Wednesday Judge Rae Lee Chabot granted most of its dismissal and only left DaimlerChrysler to explain why it took it 110 days rather than 30 to let SCO know what it was doing with Unix.
It is unclear what will happen if SCO pursues DaimlerChrysler over this final point.
Since mid-2003, SCO has been attempting to assert its claims that key parts of one version of Unix are being used without its permission.
Its most controversial assertion is that the popular open source operating system Linux includes some code taken from the version of Unix claimed by SCO.
It started a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against IBM which it says put the stolen code into Linux.
IBM disputes this interpretation of events.
SCO has sought and, in a few cases, has won licence payments for use of this code.
However, SCO’s ownership of this code is widely disputed. Its reluctance to publicly disclose all the parts that it considers to be stolen has only fuelled suspicion among open source fans.
Exhaustive analysis of the chunks of code SCO claims as its own has shown their origins and how widely they are in use.
In recent court filings for its case against IBM, SCO has released some details about what it considers to be stolen.
Initial scrutiny of these by open source advocates suggests that SCO’s claim is not as strong as it would like.
SCO’s entire ownership of a version of Unix is also being disputed by Novell.
Another legal case against car repair firm Autozone has been delayed while outstanding legal cases involving IBM, Novell and Red Hat are resolved.