* TurboHercules charges IBM with blocking users
* IBM already faces EU antitrust complaint
* IBM says TurboHercules seeking "free ride"
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, March 23 French software group
TurboHercules asked EU antitrust regulators on Tuesday to look
into IBM's (IBM.N) business practices, alleging the U.S.-based
company was blocking customers from its open-source technology.
IBM is already the subject of an antitrust complaint by U.S.
group T3 Technologies filed last year with the European
TurboHercules said it complained to the EU watchdog after
IBM refused to license its mainframe operating systems for use
with TurboHercules's mainframe emulator and accused the French
firm of violating IBM's intellectual property.
"IBM is preventing customers from using Hercules
(TurboHercules' open-source software) by tying IBM's mainframe
operating system with IBM hardware," Roger Bowler, TurboHercules
chairman, said in a statement.
"This conduct prevents TurboHercules from providing its
product to mainframe customers desiring an open-source
solution," he said.
IBM rejected the accusations, saying it was protecting its
intellectual property rights.
"TurboHercules is an 'emulation' company that seeks a free
ride on IBM's massive investments in the mainframe by marketing
systems that attempt to mimic the functionality of IBM
mainframes," IBM said in a statement.
"This is not really any different from those who seek to
market cheap knock-offs of brand-name clothing."
IBM said TurboHercules was a member of organisations funded
by rivals such as Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) "to attack the
mainframe", which is IBM's main business.
TurboHercules, a privately-held company set up in 2009, is a
member of a non-profit trade group called the Computer and
Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which counts
Microsoft and Oracle Corp ORCL.O as members, but not IBM.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating allegations
by the CCIA that IBM abused its dominance of the mainframe
business to squeeze rivals.
"Customers, including nearly all the world's major
businesses and governments, would literally save billions of
dollars if competition was allowed to enter this strategic IT
market," said CCIA Chief Executive Ed Black.
In its complaint, T3 accused IBM of preventing sales of
competing mainframes by tying the sale of its operating system
to its own such hardware and withholding patent licenses.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by David Holmes)