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IBM sues PSI for patent violation

Posted: 07 Dec 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mainframe  computers  operating system  emulator systems  OS/390 

IBM is suing an Intel-backed maker of computers that uses a version of IBM's high-end mainframe OS reconfigured to run atop Intel's industry standard processors, InformationWeek has learned.

In the lawsuit, IBM alleges that the mainframe "emulator systems" offered by PSI files countersuit against IBM" target=_blank>Platform Solutions Inc. (PSI) violate IBM patents on its z/OS OS as well as patents relating to its previous mainframe operating system, known as OS/390.

On its Website, PSI claims that it offers a "new generation of compatible mainframe computers designed to meet the rapidly changing business needs of today's enterprise." IT said its Intel 64-bit Itanium-based systems are fully compatible with z/OS and OS/390. IBM typically offers those operating systems for sale only with IBM mainframes running more expensive dedicated processors of its own manufacture.

"PSI has developed and is now implementing a business model that seeks to usurp the value of IBM's investment in mainframe computer systems," IBM alleges in the suit, which was filed last week in U.S District Court in New York. PSI's emulator translates "IBM's copyrighted software into a set of instructions that can be executed by a processor that is not capable of executing the original IBM instructions," the company claims.

In that filing, IBM says it had little choice to sue PSI because the vendor's clone systems put IBM's reputation in jeopardy. It claims PSI's technology won't run its mainframe operating systems properly, and the result could be customer disappointment that might wash over to IBM. "IBM has a strong interest in ensuring that z/OS is not used on computer systems with which z/OS is not fully compatible or used in ways that have the potential to undermine either the reputation of z/OS for accuracy, data integrity, and reliability of z/OS for mission critical applications," IBM says in its lawsuit.

According to IBM, PSI is making a number of false claims to potential customers, including that IBM will "license its operating systems for use on PSI's systems in a 'business as usual' manner." IBM also claims that PSI ignored its requests to examine a clone system and negotiate possible cases of infringement. The computing giant says Platform Solutions' response was to threaten it with antitrust litigation.

IBM is asking the U.S. District Court to declare preemptively that its mainframe business doesn't violate any antitrust laws. It's also suing PSI for breach of contract.

IBM is seeking an injunction that would prevent PSI from selling its systems and is asking for unspecified financial damages. Executives from PSI were not immediately available for comment.

- Paul McDougall

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