IBM Lawyer Hired Away by Microsoft
and a Second Analyst Unconvinced
by SCO "Proof"
I saw this little notice on Law.com:
"After handling IBM's intellectual property matters for nearly 30 years, Marshall Phelps Jr. has jumped to Microsoft Corp., where he will oversee more than 11,000 trademarks and 3,000 U.S. patents as vice president and deputy general counsel for IP."
He was VP for IP and licensing at IBM. Hmm. How convenient. Do you suppose he knows anything that might be of value to anybody rooting for SCO?
Another interesting tidbit: An analyst in Germany who looked at SCO's proof code and is talking, saying that their lawyer forgot to ask him to sign an NDA, says, I think (my high school German is a lot rusty), that he can't be sure if there is any substance to SCO's claim.
One reason is there's no way to verify if the UNIX code is actually System V, because the code was pulled out of any traceable record, and all dates, even on the comments, had been removed. Also, it appears to him that while there were similarities in functionality, there were differences in implementation for some of it.. One section seems to be identical, but who knows which came first, the chicken or the egg? He also noted some differences. My German isn't up to this task, so take a look yourself at the German version here. Google's English translation is here. And here is how Sherlock translates it, with the usual somewhat comical results:
"I had today the possibility of looking at me the loading code
paragraph. By a mistake on the part of the representing law office my
colleague and I, in contrast to the 7 other assigned one, did not have
to sign which received today insight, a discretion assertion.
Completely contrary to the examiners of the company Microsoft, who
must protect silence obviously even opposite their own superiors, and
only the internal audit department in relation to report to refund
may. Now, to the code: Under notarial supervision 46 pages A in each
case one half code from Linux (to a large extent printed out Posts
directly from the Linux Kernel mailing list) and the other half of
listings of SCO were submitted. Whether it actually concerns thereby
SysV sources, is like that not to be reconstructed, since they tore
from the connection. Interesting is also, which all dates were removed
from both, even from the comments. The coming AR are actually in parts
identically, even some jokes are alike on both pages. Remarkable is
however, which is nevertheless quite different to to most
corresponding places the source code which is before coming arene. The
fundamental structure of the complained of functions is similarly, the
concrete implementation however nevertheless quite differently.
Variable ones and function names are different, Schlefien are
structured differently, conditions run over chain queries or bit
pattern. All in all only one can be surely said: The functions
supplied by the respective code paragraph are often alike, which was
to be expected in addition, from the front in here. In the concrete
implementation there are not however so many differences that a proof
of the same origin will become difficult, although reliably not
possibly. Crack point is however a function of the scheduler, which is
on a length of scarcely 60 lines actually identical up to small
differences. Here there is also a whole number of corresponding
comments. Comparable similarity indicates only one routine of the
store management, with which there are comments however only in the
Linux version at all. Whether alone from these two agreements however
a judicious proof can be created, only one lawyer with Sichrheit can
estimate. The vague similarities in other sections hold I for, since
for both the same standards to reason were finally situated, certain
an agreement thus to expect insufficiently are. Which concerns however
the same comments for however different source areas, I can make
myself on it no Reim. That would have to be again examined in any case
more exactly, in particular also with available dates. Because with it
a violation of the clock jack right could only be proven at all. Which
concerns the discussion around from SCO/Caldera themselves under the
GPL sold section of Linux, then must be said, which had to decide so
far still no court on the right security of the GPL. If this should be
determined however, what is not safe, then SCO can consult only the
sections from Linux to the comparison, which did not publish it and in
their development or advancement it was not involved. Also this regard
I as a difficulty in the coming procedure. Since however the original,
ungepatchten Linux sources, but only modifications, which inserted
most diverse Distributoren, were not attacked in any case is to be
still clarified whether these evtl. Right ones at the deplored
paragraph have, either directly or indirectly e.g. by firm unions,
transfers, "all inclusive" Deals u.ae. The chances on a procedure
actually which can be opened are however not particularly high, since
one agreed so far in most comparable cases out of court. This is
however only my personally estimate, obligatory is in any case only
the decision both pages of the representing lawyers or then possibly
the responsible court."
If anyone can provide a better translation, please do.
PS June 15, 2003 This story is now on Slashdot, where some are opining that this may not be true, that they are unable to find any such individual on Google. A better translation was offered and it was summarized by one poster like this:
Summary (Score:5, Insightful)
by utahjazz (177190) on Sunday June 15, @07:37PM ( #6207400 )
-Code was 46 pairs of printouts, no dates associated.
-2 sections of code looked very similar
-The rest was mostly copied comments, including jokes that were copied.
-Observer found it curious that the source code near the copied comments was completely different."
P.P.S. I doublechecked. I was worried that being unable to find the good doctor on Google might mean there was no such person, that this was a hoax. If so, I would want to find out and post what I found, because my goal on this blog is accuracy. I too was unable to find him on Google. Google isn't the only search engine on the planet, however, and if you wish to find this guy on a search engine, try Vivisimo. It will bring you not only to the original link but also to a link to Golem.de Network News, a German Linux site here. Golem's forum is here. Once you are there, do a search (suche) and it takes you here. The search results are here. Someone here asked him to clarify and here is how Sherlock translates, with my editorial comments in brackets:
Q: How could you attain insight? [I assume he means how did you get to see the code?]
"Since our enterprise develops also products on Linux base, inspection
for two coworkers was agreed upon. The regulation concerning the
limitations, Microsoft representatives are exposed to which, was
acknowledged in the meantime by several places, even if honestly said
the insight into the Sinnhaftigkeit of this decision is missing to me.
Which concerns the missing discretion assertion, then I assume an
error on the part of the representing kanzlei, because also several
coworkers the Siemens Nixdorf received insight without restrictions." [He seems to be saying again that he didn't have to sign the restrictive NDA through an oversight and he says that several other coworkers at Siemens Nixdorf also gained access to the code. Depending on the accuracy of this translation, it could indicate that he works for Siemens Nixdorf.]
Q: "it does not know whether I > so without closer inspection; to
believe can. Would be however marvelous, if is correct. Is for me
as one those, which one provisional order against SCO obtain
could already quite interesting. Take up nevertheless simply
times contact, Nehmen Sie doch einfach mal Kontakt auf," [I haven't a clue here, except he is either saying he is part of the legal action against SCO or he would like the Dr. to help, but he can't believe what the Dr. wrote earlier, much as he would like to, without more evidence.]
"I am not a lawyer, take you my predicates thus please not as starting
point for legal steps. Also I would like to contain for the time being
once of further expressions, since at least in-plant in the meantime
appropriate statements on mean colleagues and me were issued, and I no
difficulties to cause would like. In all other respects my colleague
of other opinion than is I and keeps the reasons for not, stated on
the part of SCO, durable. But that can clarify probably only one court
finally." [I am again not sure, so maybe someone who speaks German can do a better translation. He seems to be saying that he doesn't want to be involved in any court proceeding and wants to say no more for now. The rest is unclear.]
Someone has posted questions for him to answer in English, and one question is the right one:
"Also, could you clarify how Microsoft representatives were involved in your viewing of the disputed SCO/Linux code?"
He has not yet answered that question. If you go here, you can scroll down the page, looking at the Autor (author) column and you'll find the name three times. I told you, research is what paralegals do. If you recall, it was a SCO paralegal who found the copyright amendment to the Novell-SCO deal, not Boies or the inhouse attorney. Paralegals find things other people can't. I'll keep my eye on this doctor. If anyone reading the blog wants to follow up, I'd think a simple phone call to the company he mentions would be fruitful, particularly if you speak German. Either you'll find the good doctor there, or you'll find out if anyone else there saw the code, as he says, or you'll find out he isn't who and what he is saying on this forum. Let's see, if it's midnight here, what time is it in Germany? Where'd I put my Zaurus?