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IBM Uses Software Patents Aggressively

Beware the Big Blue monster

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Summary: New leak shows that IBM not only lobbies to keep software patents, but that it also uses them against rivals

SHAME on IBM. In many previous posts we criticised IBM's stance on software patents and now we can criticise its legal actions too.



Regardless of the motives of TurboHercules (it has joined Microsoft's lobby [1, 2]), it is now being confirmed that IBM not only lobbies for software patents but that it is also bullying TurboHercules with software patents (in Europe!).

Florian Mueller has just uploaded the following document, which led the president of the FFII to saying that "IBM [is] threatening Open Source Mainframe emulator with software patents..."

IBM letter dated 11 March 2010 to TurboHercules SAS

Scroll down to the list of patents.

Mueller writes that "IBM is using patent warfare in order to protect its highly lucrative mainframe monopoly against Free and Open Source Software." He argues that "IBM breaks the number one taboo of the FOSS community and shamelessly uses its patents [...] This betrayal of the promise is unbelievable, but I never believed that IBM was sincere about that pledge in the first place."

Some might suggest that Mueller is acting as a front for Microsoft, but regardless of all that, just looking at the original complaint against TurboHercules, IBM is clearly being a bully. Those recent suggestions that IBM can/should buy Novell are therefore worth a second look. With SCO cartoons abound [1, 2], this is no joking matter. Novell is up for sale (part of the reason we transition names) and it would be undesirable for a patent bully to acquire Novell's patents.

Regarding that Novell acquisition, longtime SCO booster Paul Murphy is at it again, connecting this to SCO [1, 2] and leading to a timely rant from Groklaw:

I confess I have been cracking myself up this time by reading old Rob Enderle, Paul Murphy, and Maureen O'Gara articles I had saved from the early days, each predicting solemnly Linux's doom. I can't tell you how much *more* fun it is to read them now than when they first showed up in 2003 and 2004. Remember Why SCO Should Win? Or O'Gara publishing Dan Wallace's letter supporting SCO's then-theory that the GPL was unConstitutional? Here's a law professor's answer to Wallace, by the way, for those who are new.

Ah, those were the days, weren't they? It's so pleasurable to reread all the heady nonsense SCO and its supporters were spewing. My favorite was Murphy promising to quit if SCO lost. Of course, he hasn't. He's still at it. Would you like to see his new dire prediction? He seems to think Elliot Management is a front for Microsoft or some other player who can buy SUSE and the copyrights, and then go after Red Hat and you and me.

Oh goody. Some new FUD. Let's enter, temporarily, then Murphy's alternate universe, because he forgot one detail. Well. Two.


It's not entirely impossible. Actually, it seems rather likely unless some company like IBM steps in (it's a lot cheaper than Sun). Would that be any better given that IBM endorsed Novell's patent deal with Microsoft?

Update: The FFII has just published the original letter as PNG images.

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