Irked by an anti-trust complaint against it, filed by TurboHercules, a Paris-based company that is trying to monetise a open source mainframe emulator known as Hercules, IBM has written to the company, pointing out a list of 106 patents which it claims TurboHercules is infringing.
There are also 67 pending patents in the list. Two of the 500 patents which IBM promised would be freely available to FOSS practitioners are in the list.
According to its website, Hercules "is an open source software implementation of the mainframe System/370 and ESA/390 architectures, in addition to the new 64-bit z/Architecture. Hercules runs under Linux, Windows (98, NT, 2000, and XP), Solaris, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X (10.3 and later)."
TurboHercules is the first firm to try and make money off Hercules. According to the company's website, "the niche we see for TurboHercules is to focus on ancillary workloads such as mainframe education, training, demonstrations, pre- and post-processing, data preparation, archiving, development and testing. However, IBM has restricted the use of its operating system software to IBM mainframes only.
"But, there is an exception. The worldwide IBM Customer Agreement clearly states that 'if the designated machine is inoperable, the customer may use another machine temporarily.' Disaster recovery / business continuity is an ideal fit for TurboHercules since the backup and related communications occur without the need to run any IBM software on the TurboHercules machine."
IBM's letter to TurboHercules, dated March 11, says TurboHercules would infringe on a large number of patents given that it admits it has emulated significant parts of IBM's proprietary instruction set architecture. TurboHercules' co-founder is Roger Bowler, the creator of Hercules.