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IBM Patents Your Rights Online

Open Source Complaint Against IBM Gets Support 250

Posted by kdawson
from the flashback-to-the-eighties dept.
FlorianMueller writes "ZDNet blogger Dana Blankenhorn reports that '[t]he efforts by open source TurboHercules to break IBM's mainframe monopoly through the European Commission got some proprietary support this week when NEON Enterprise Software LLC of Austin, Texas, filed an EU complaint alongside a US antitrust lawsuit.' NEON's founder co-founded BMC, so the company is well-funded for this fight. In comments given to the IDG News Service, IBM claims that NEON's product, which saves mainframe customers money by optimizing the use of coprocessors, 'offers no innovation,' and accuses the 'copycat' of violating IBM's intellectual property. That's basically what IBM also said about the Hercules emulator. The European Commission is expected to take a decision on an investigation in a matter of months. Since IBM lobbies the EC over the Open Document Format, it's now accused of double standards."
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Open Source Complaint Against IBM Gets Support

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  • oh jeez (Score:4, Informative)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Friday June 25, 2010 @10:58AM (#32690886) Journal

    can we not go through this again? it's been debunked [groklaw.net] thoroughly.

    This is the fault of Hercules trying to get IBM to license the way Hercules wants, not anything that is IBM's fault.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday June 25, 2010 @10:59AM (#32690900)
    They say IBM has double standards as if this were supposed to be shocking. Microsoft has its open source lab, Apple has made threats against open source projects while contributing to other projects, Mozilla and Red Hat leverage their trademarks, etc. Corporations do whatever is profitable, they are not some bastion of morality, so why should we be shocked that IBM fights open source projects while pushing other open source projects?
  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Friday June 25, 2010 @11:16AM (#32691146) Homepage

    Here's some articles swpat.org has on these topics - but only on the software patent aspects:

    Discussion over whether X company is right to defend their revenue stream etc. etc. would be outside the scope.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday June 25, 2010 @11:17AM (#32691160) Journal

    This isn't about political credibility or any IBM credo.

    Where do you come up with this? Anything open source licensed can be reimplemented with or without IBM's blessing. What's an example? How about the product in question!

    Quit spinning things like this is an IBM intent. They don't have to license to everyone.

    If I said you should pay me for my implementation of your product, would you say yes? No, you wouldn't.

  • Re:oh jeez (Score:5, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday June 25, 2010 @11:22AM (#32691218) Homepage Journal

    Thanks for your post.
    Really this has been turned down by both Groklaw and the Linux Foundation.
    For those that don't know this is what TurboHercules wants.
    IBM sells z/OS which is a closed source OS with a restrictive license that says you can only run it on an IBM zMachine.
    TurboHercules wants IBM to allow customers that buy z/OS to run it on the Hercules emulator.
    There is nothing involving the GPL or FOSS here at all except that Hercules runs under Linux and is released under the Q license which is FOSS but not GPL compatible.
    Now Neon wants to sell a closed source solution that allows you to off load some zMachine processing to co processors which IBM says violated their z/OS license.
    This is massive spin of the highest order.
    It has nothing to do with FOSS or patents or anything else.
    If you do not want to be stuck running IBM hardware I suggest that people migrate their software to Linux on the zMachine and then they can migrate away from the zMachine to any Linux box on the want.
    The company TurboHercules is actually spreading FUD because IBM doesn't want to do things their way.
    AKA TurboHercules is using the FOSS community for it's own ends and wrapping it's self in the FOSS flag.
    Both Groklaw and the Linux Foundation have said that they are spreading FUD.

    BTW http://www.hercules-390.org/ [hercules-390.org] is really a cool program. You can get older IBM mainframe OSs and run them on it and you can even run Linux on it if you want your own IBM mainframe to play with.

  • by sprag (38460) on Friday June 25, 2010 @11:27AM (#32691270)

    I think Florian's beef is that IBM's response letter mentioned patents which may be infringed by the hercules product -- and how one of them was on the 'gift to open source' list. Of course, even then he's wrong: the open source hercules project is different than the commercial product which is seeking the copyright license.

    The bottom line is the commercial hercules people started this fight and they were in the wrong to assert that IBM must license its properties to anyone who comes by and asks. The patent (non-) issue doesn't have anything to do with it and its an emotional sideshow to get the OSS folks to be on the commercial hercules' side.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday June 25, 2010 @11:28AM (#32691288) Journal

    IBM hasn't really done anything, but everyone has taken it as aggression. IBM said "be careful" and people went "oh, shit, we're gonna get sued!" and panicked, not unlike the gif for shut down everything. It'd be like you asking Microsoft if it's possible that your software might infringe and they say yes (even before knowing what it is) just due to safety. It's not a threat.

    Don't get me wrong, IBM isn't some magically innocent pure company, - but there is a lot more spin than fact here, and in fact turbohercules has now provided the aggression via NEON. It's quite surprising actually. Considering that IBM could, in the worst case, send a C&D first, where Neon just went out and sued (and we have no indication that they talked to IBM at all - I doubt they did). This is basically a politically fueled lawsuit.

    swpat, while interesting, doesn't have much more than aggregations of links from other sites.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday June 25, 2010 @11:39AM (#32691402) Journal

    IBM did nothing.

    There was no bullying. They never even sent a Cease and Desist! So what did they do, exactly? Our Turbohercules guy asked for clarification and got it, and flipped out.

    Again, linking to your own blog with your own opinions is disingenuous and the kind of spin that you are frankly, known for, Florian. Tit for tat sir, if you want to play LMGTFY, then I'm going to call you on the fact that you're a known for misleading comments and redirecting debates.

    So lets go onward to things that you also fail to understand, shall we? I don't have all day, after all. IBM *does* have copyright on their code, and if you read their license, you would understand that their control of the copyright defines the scenario. Why? Well lets take a look at the IBM license. Do you know what it is? LGPL. Maybe you should look up what the LGPL does, as it is about copyright, and not software patents.

    So you're saying that the fault here is IBM, which indirectly blames LGPL. This is why and how you are detrimental to the F/OSS community. Please leave it and go back to lobbying or work for MS or something. If IBM gets screwed here, the GPL would be weakened accordingly. Way to go! That surely must be good for open source, right?

    Is this related to MS? No. Don't bring it up and waste my time, buddy. I know your games. You've been around too long to bring down a community that is way too established for you to go to. Guess which community that is? The F/OSS one.

    And with that said, I have to get back to actual real work, as opposed to verbal sparring.

  • Re:oh jeez (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday June 25, 2010 @11:41AM (#32691424) Homepage Journal

    IBM is not using the patents to attack Hercules. Hercules is up and available right now. Show me a take down notice or law suite.
    Yep IBM wants to make as much money as possible and the Z/OS lock makes them money.
    NEON is a way to run Z/OS not on the ZMachine hardware so blame. Also IBM said that it wouldn't use patents to attack FOSS NEON isn't FOSS.
    So nope this doesn't effect the FOSS community really at all.
    The one thing I would love to see is IBM to release a version of Z/OS for "educational" use. I would like to play with and learn it.

  • by sprag (38460) on Friday June 25, 2010 @12:18PM (#32691894)

    If i said it was closed source then I misspoke.

    But, that isn't the point: the open source project isn't affected. The commercial entity which is repackaging hercules has been informed (not sued, not C&D, just informed) that if they continue with their lawsuit against IBM then IBM might consider using this list of patents against them. Again, not against the open source hercules community but the commercial entity.

    I think software patents suck, but using a lawsuit to try to force someone to do something that they don't want to sucks just as much.

  • Re:oh jeez (Score:2, Informative)

    by trboyden (465969) on Friday June 25, 2010 @12:51PM (#32692530) Homepage

    Florian,

    It's not an anti-trust situation because the situation you describe is exactly the same as Apple's whole business model which has been upheld with legal precedent. You say IBM doesn't want to make z/OS available for use on non-IBM hardware - that is the same argument Pystar tried with Apple not wanting to make OS X available for use on non-Apple hardware. The courts expediently slapped Pystar down and confirmed that business model is perfectly OK.

    The emulator is an entirely different issue. Anyone is free to clean room backwards engineer an emulator for the purposes of interoperability - that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. However, they cannot use any copyrighted or patented technology that IBM created in order to do so. IBM is under no obligation to assist them in creating or maintaining their emulator. IBM is perfectly in the right to demand legal review of the emulator if they feel that it violates any of their IP. As this can only be done in a court of law through legal discovery, it is not unreasonable to expect that the group behind the emulator would receive the typical legal paperwork (demands) that initiate the process.

    Any company is free to compete in the mainframe market by offering their own hardware and software solution. If they can't convince customers to switch to their platform from IBM's that is just capitalism at work.

  • Re:oh jeez (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tim99 (984437) on Friday June 25, 2010 @01:37PM (#32693370)
    I have been following this for a while. TurboHercules SAS asked (in my opinion naively, or perhaps, disingenuously) IBM " to consider making available to your mainframe customers a license for IBM operating systems on the TurboHercules platform". http://www.turbohercules.com/uploads/files/TH-letter-to-IBM-Europe-2009-07-29.pdf [turbohercules.com]

    The original Q Public License version of the Hercules 390 software states in their FAQ "Hercules implements only the raw S/370, ESA/390, and z/Architecture instruction set; it does not provide any operating system facilities. This means that you need to provide an operating system or standalone program which Hercules can load from an emulated disk or tape device. You will have to write the operating system or standalone program yourself, unless you can manage to obtain a license from IBM to run one of their operating systems on your PC, or use IBM programs and operating systems which have been placed in the public domain." http://www.hercules-390.org/hercfaq.html [hercules-390.org]. They knew that they did not have an OS licence. The TurboHercules SAS company was set up in 2009 to commercialize this Hercules technology - Roger Bowler knew that he did not have a commercial business unless IBM granted them the licence.

    An article giving some background can be found here: http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/another-thrown-under-bus [linuxjournal.com]

    Before I retired, I wrote both commercial and public/sector FLOSS software, and would have been very surprised if someone had taken my commercial stuff and then based a FLOSS project upon it without my written assignment. I might have been more favourably inclined to Florian Müller's view if I had not watched his efforts to help Monty Widenius wrest control of MySQL back from Sun/Oracle. I suspect that Florian's view of FOSS may be slanted by his commercial lobbying efforts.

Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature. -- Rich Kulawiec

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