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IBM Businesses The Courts

EU Launches Antitrust Investigation Against IBM 135

FlorianMueller writes "The European Commission announced today that it has launched two parallel antitrust investigations into IBM's mainframe practices, following complaints lodged by T3 Technologies last year and French open source startup TurboHercules in March. EU regulators suspect an abuse of a dominant position and illegal tying of IBM's mainframe hardware to its proprietary mainframe operating system z/OS. There's even the possibility of a third case based on a complaint filed very recently by NEON, and the DoJ is also looking into this matter. IBM now finds itself in a situation previously experienced by Microsoft and Intel. This may also affect IBM's credibility when lobbying in the EU for open standards." Reader coondoggie points out a response from IBM saying that the accusations are being driven by Microsoft and other competitors.
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EU Launches Antitrust Investigation Against IBM

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  • Groklaw (Score:5, Informative)

    by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:34PM (#33034268) Journal

    Here is some facts and opinion from Groklaw, at least on the TurboHercules part.

    Groklaw []
    Digging a Little Deeper into TurboHercules/IBM - and Microsoft

    Despite the fact that PJ probably has a few blinders at work when opining on IBM I believe this to be relevant considering
    Florian's seemingly diametrically opposed (to PJ's that is) opinions on IBM...

  • Re:Imagine that! (Score:5, Informative)

    by FlorianMueller ( 801981 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:42PM (#33034416) Homepage

    Wow...a company tying it's software to the hardware they manufactured! Holy crap...who could have imagined!?!

    IBM isn't the only company doing that. But they have a de facto monopoly on mainframes and that's why there's an antitrust issue. It takes a market position that is at least dominant (IBM is even superdominant on mainframes) AND anticompetitive behavior. One of the two isn't enough to make a legal case. I discussed the question of market dominance versus significance in this recent blog posting [].

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:47PM (#33034524)
    It runs on an emulator, and an organization that wants to continue running its older mainframe software on non-mainframe hardware may want to use such an emulator.
  • by CaptainOfSpray ( 1229754 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:48PM (#33034546)
    "IBM now finds itself in a situation previously experienced by Microsoft and Intel."

    How fast we forgot! Or maybe it's that you young uns never knew...IBM wrote the book on fighting and defeating anti-trust actions by not winning in court, but winning in the market place. Check out what happened 1956 and 1969, and how those events made IBM stronger, not weaker.
  • Re:Groklaw (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:04PM (#33034834)

    Not true. An investigation is what happens when enough competitors force the issue. It doesn't mean they think anything is wrong, just that they will look into the complaints. Here's the EU Commission press release says exactly that: "The initiation of proceedings does not imply that the Commission has proof of infringements. It only signifies that the Commission will further investigate the cases as a matter of priority."

    You are so full of it, Florian.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:15PM (#33035006)

    The company filing this complaint is not open source. That's not being truthful, pretending it's the open source project asking for the license. It's not. It's Turbo Hercules.

    Florian, you need to be more careful in your speech, or more honest, whatever the problem may be. And I'd like to ask you a question, and you should answer it honestly: is Microsoft paying you to do this? Microsoft or a "satellite proxy"? Tell us.

  • Re:Imagine that! (Score:5, Informative)

    by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:01PM (#33035690)

    IBM stopped bundling hardware and software in 1969. z/OS is a separate product from the hardware. You do not get a copy of z/OS when you buy a zSeries machine. You can run any OS on it you wish. That includes z/OS, Linux, z/VM, z/VSE, and OpenSolaris. However, if you want to run z/OS, then you DO need a zSeries machine, as that is the only way it is licensed. TH would like IBM to license z/OS to run on their emulator. But, there is a problem - IBM believes the TH emulator infringes on over 100 of it's hardware and architecture patents, and therefore will not license z/OS to run on it.

  • Re:Imagine that! (Score:3, Informative)

    by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:09PM (#33035808)

    Bundling is putting two things together in one package. You do not need z/OS to run a mainframe - you can use Linux, z/VM, OpenSolaris, or z/VSE. You do need a zSeries machine to run z/OS, but the license can be transferred to a different machine. The two products (hardware and software) are sold separately. If a legitimate competitor (ie. one that licenses IBM IP) arose, IBM may very well license z/OS to be run on that hardware. No such competitor currently exists.

  • by thbb ( 200684 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:39PM (#33036282) Homepage

    You're talking about US law.

    This a EU investigation, and its legal grounding is different. Among others: tying your hardware to your software *is* illegal in EU, as it constitutes a bundled sale. Also, monopolies and oligopoles are under tight surveillance, and the EU can fine them if their margins reach beyond a certain threshold. There are full teams of statisticians who study sales numbers of telcos in EU, and determine what is a "fair" margin they are entitled to make.

    This is what we call a "market-driven social economy", where we have managed to insert some of the good ideas of socialism while still relying on the market to allow some form of competition between tightly controlled corporations.

  • Re:Imagine that! (Score:2, Informative)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @05:11PM (#33036826) Journal

    You are tooting your own horn.

    "check my blog! I've got great insight!" The source for EC says they're investigating. It doesn't have your spin where you continue to parade that somehow the turbohercules scenario is monopolistic as if IBM should suddenly license the way turbohercules wants just because they ask. That part, is misleading. I guess I should pull up old comments again, where you are clearly the party to this entire scenario. []

    And then we have when you get debunked bigtime []

    get real.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982