executives are red in the face over Big
Blue’s efforts to swipe software source code and shut them out of the
software development market.
A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan Tuesday,
with “misappropriating and using Compuware
intellectual property in IBM mainframe products,” the complaint read.
The extent of the damages wasn’t mentioned in the lawsuit, claiming only
redress and compensation for lost revenues and profits and a ruling whether
IBM was violating intellectual property laws and antitrust laws.
Compuware is a software developer whose biggest asset is IBM’s range of
distributed computers and mainframe computers. The company creates
debugging, database and fault diagnosis applications, used by companies
that house IBM and other mainframe computers, as well as IBM software products.
Joseph Nathan, Compuware president, claims IBM is taking the source code
they provide the company for documentation purposes and using it for
products in the IBM global services division, even steering customers away
“IBM has attempted to enter the mainframe software tools market and compete
with Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) by misappropriating Compuware’s
source code and even copying our user manual,” he said. “We are filing
this lawsuit in an effort to stop IBM’s illegal practices and promote open
competition in the ISV marketplace.”
The lawsuit points particularly to IBM’s new “File Manager” software tool,
which is “substantially similar” to Compuware’s own software tool and even
has the same software bugs in the program. IBM’s file manager user’s
manual also includes, they say, passages lifted entirely from their own guide.
In addition to intellectual property theft, the lawsuit maintains IBM’s
global services division is practices anti-competitive and monopolistic
practices to elbow out the competition.
Big Blue has had a long-standing tradition of handing out pre-release
copies of its software and hardware data so ISVs like Compuware can improve
its own software tools. Now that its global services division is competing
with Compuware, that service has essentially stopped.
In an email sent to Compuware last year in response to requests for a beta
version of a new software product, IBM responded:
“Due to increasingly competitive relationship with Compuware we cannot
give you a beta version…we are working feverishly to make our (product)
better than (yours). Therefore, shipping a beta to you would be seen as
helping the enemy, however untrue that may be.”
According to the suit, IBM is also tying software tools directly to its
software products, shutting out the competition.
The suit has an eerie resemblance to the current court wranglings between
Microsoft and its competitors, who say the software giant is tying
Microsoft applications (like Internet Explorer) with its operating system.
“Our sole mission with the lawsuit is to ask the courts to require fair
play in the marketplace so that mainframe customers are free to select the
software tools that provide the best value and performance,” Nathan said.