Mainframe Cases Closed in Europe

The European Commission opened two investigations last year into IBM's mainframe-related business practices. The Commission has closed one case without action. In the other case, IBM suggested a solution, and the Commission praised IBM's suggestion but is allowing interested parties to comment.

The first investigation began when T3 Technologies and TurboHercules (later joined by Neon Enterprise Software) lodged a complaint alleging that IBM was guilty of antitrust abuses because IBM refused to license its mainframe software to run with their technologies. T3 and Neon also filed antitrust cases in U.S. court. IBM complained that Microsoft, a competitor which has had significant antitrust problems, was actually providing the funding for these complaints. Also, IBM noted that the company spends billions of dollars to develop new mainframe technologies, that IBM holds multiple mainframe hardware patents on those innovations (including in Europe), that the vendors did not have patent licenses, and that IBM should not be compelled to support infringement of its own patents. Also, there was recent and compelling precedent in the case of Psystar Corporation versus Apple. T3 and Neon lost their related court cases in the U.S., and all three companies withdrew their European Commission complaints early last month.

The second investigation concerned maintenance services for IBM mainframes. Apparently some maintenance service companies in Europe had difficulty winning mainframe service contracts. IBM proposed changes in how it supplies mainframe spare parts and technical documentation. Pending a comment period, that case looks like it's resolved without drama.

by Timothy Sipples September 23, 2011 in Current Affairs
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