IBM vs. TurboHercules: Our Story Thus Far...

Apr 08, 2010

IBM sees the Hercules mainframe emulator as a source of competition. TurboHercules thinks they're simply leveling the playing field.

Earlier this week it was made public that IBM had levied patent infringement allegations against French company TurboHercules and its mainframe emulator. A letter signed by IBM VP and technology officer Mark S. Anzani and addressed to TurboHercules co-founder Roger Bowler detailed the more than 170 patents the company allegedly infringed upon. The problem: two of the patents in question were part of a 500-patent access pledge made by IBM in 2005.

Roger Bowler and other members of the open source community fear that IBM wants to break the pledge in order to maintain its choke-hold on mainframes and licensing. "Mainframes are now so deeply embedded in the infrastructure of modern society that they are too important to be left in the hands of a single company (IBM)," Bowler wrote in a blog on the TurboHercules site.

Unsurprisingly, IBM sees it differently. "TurboHercules is a member of organizations that are founded and financed by IBM competitors such as Microsoft. We severely question TurboHercules' motives," IBM submitted in their official response to Linux Magazine.

Bowler has responded by submitting an antitrust complaint to the European Commission in Brussels against IBM in March 2010. He maintains that the goal of TurboHercules is to "reestablish a free and fair competitive market for IBM mainframes. Mainframe users ought to have the right to choose what hardware they want to run their programs on."

The Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin posted a note on the site's blog from Daniel Frye, VP, Open Systems Development at IBM that reasserted the terms of the pledge and stated that the pledge itself is not in danger of being dissolved.

Hercules is currently under the Q Public License, which recognized by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

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