04.06.10

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IBM’s Day of Shame

Posted in IBM, Patents at 8:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Invention in dictionary

Summary: IBM’s dark side shown to the public

THE story we wrote about this morning is spreading to news sites. Here is some coverage of interest:

IBM uses pledged patents against open source mainframe emulator

The letter includes a “non-exhaustive” list of 106 IBM patents and 67 pending patent applications. Mueller found that on examining the list, two of the patents mentioned in the letter, 5613086 and 5220669 are among the five hundred patents in the IBM patent pledgePDF. Mueller says “This betrayal of the promise is unbelievable, but I never believed that IBM was sincere about that pledge in the first place”. He calls for regulatory intervention against IBM and points out that TurboHercules had already lodged anti-trust complaint with the European Commission.

IBM: Open Source’s Friend? Not So Much Now

IBM certainly has some explaining to do. It needs to make clear where it stands on open source, and where on software patents. It needs to understand that the two are not compatible, and that it cannot truly be a friend of the former while deploying the latter as weapons against free software, even when the victims sit on the latter’s fringe rather than at its heart. After such a long and mutually beneficial relationship, it would be sad if IBM decides that it prefers software patents to open source – and ultimately to its detriment.

IBM tears up open source patent pledge, claims FOSS

IBM Breaks Open Source Patent Pledge

IBM breaks OSS patent promise, targets mainframe emulator

IBM TurboHercules Patent Threat Letter

For people reading this page from Slashdot, I have to confess that IBM is still lobbying for software patents in the European Union though the creation of a central patent court. IBM, like Microsoft, is actively lobbying in Brussels not to reopen the software patent directive through the Community Patent discussions, and the creation of a central patent court.

Open-source Advocate Enters IBM Antitrust Fray

Software developer and political lobbyist Florian Mueller weighed in on the European Commission’s investigation of monopoly abuse claims against IBM, accusing the computing giant of deserting the interests of the open-source software community.

Florian Mueller finds a new windmill to attack in IBM

Fresh off his humiliating defeat at the hands of Oracle, Florian Mueller is now tilting at IBM, accusing it of open source treason for trying to enforce a monopoly it won before he was born.

[...]

The question is just how much IBM credibility might be lost as a result of TurboHercules. Mueller wants to make certain it’s a lot.

Regardless of Mueller’s agenda, the letter from IBM is authentic. To IBM, it’s a black eye. Is it a blunder because it contradicts IBM’s policy or is it a blunder because it was leaked? Either way, IBM has a habit of patenting insulting things and then backtracking/apologising when there is public backlash (i.e. only when it gets caught and exposed). If IBM is a friend of Free software, then unlike Novell, it ought to trash software patents rather than quietly hoard them. As Glyn Moody put it, IBM needs to understand that Free software and software patents are simply not compatible.

Nefarious Organisation Vilifies Every Linux Law

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7 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    April 6, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Gravatar

    BTW, IBM’s fight against clone mainframes and unapproved mainframe emulation has a long history, including being the topic of anti-trust lawsuits, and more I think.

  2. Chips B. Malroy said,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy,
    While you most likely are right about this with IBM there is this.

    Looking at Groklaw today, its news pick on the right hand side gives us this link:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/26/ibm_turbohercules_response/

    Quote: “TurboHercules is a member of organizations founded and funded by IBM competitors such as Microsoft to attack the mainframe. Such an anti-trust accusation is not being driven by the interests of consumers and mainframe customers – who benefit from intellectual property laws and the innovation that they foster – but rather by entities that seek to use governmental intervention to advance their own commercial interests.”
    ————————————————————————————————-
    Although, I suspect the story is much deeper than this.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, I’ve already covered that [1].

  3. Agent_Smith said,

    April 7, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Gravatar

    Well, there’s more than meets the eye here. Perhaps an attack to IBM by proxy, since I guess the Hercules terminal emulator runs on windows systems, since it’s open source.
    I told to be careful with IBM, but, we also must be careful to give one what’s its due. And IBM is a better friend (even if it’s not perfect) to Linux, than any other of the bunch (crApple and M$…)

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    In IRC we have been trying to find out whether the antitrust complaint came before the nastygram or the other way around. It matters a lot.

    What complicates it is that there could be precursors to the antitrust complaint and the nastygram.

    I’ll do another post soon. TurboHercules has been trying to get in touch with me several times, but I avoid them. They are helping Microsoft.

    Regardless of the circumstances, IBM should not pull software patents out of the holster.

    Agent_Smith Reply:

    Well, if IBM pulls the trigger, it will shot its own feet here. The outcome of this “imbroglio” is eagerly expected.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Here is the best explanation we’ve found so far.

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