Fujitsu Ltd has won a clean bill of health from the American Arbitration Association, and major new rights from IBM in settlement of IBM’s complaint against the Japanese company for alleged infringement of IBM copyright in the MVS and MVS/XA operating systems. The settlement frees Fujitsu to market its OSIV family of more efficient rewrites […]
Fujitsu Ltd has won a clean bill of health from the American Arbitration Association, and major new rights from IBM in settlement of IBM’s complaint against the Japanese company for alleged infringement of IBM copyright in the MVS and MVS/XA operating systems. The settlement frees Fujitsu to market its OSIV family of more efficient rewrites of MVS to IBM users, and opens up the possibility of fierce price competition in mainframe operating software. Under terms of the Association’s order, the royalties Fujitsu agreed to pay IBM in 1983 on each sale of its OSIV operating system are replaced by a single, as yet unspecified, lump sum payment, to be determined during the coming year. The payment will buy Fujitsu the right to access IBM programming information through a procedure that will protect IBM’s copyrights. The facility to examine IBM software in a secured environment will be open to Fujitsu for from five to 10 years. An independent facilities supervisor and members of the arbitration board will supervise the secured facility and decree what must go into it – but nothing goes in until it goes on general release. IBM gets the same right to examine Fujitsu software, – but IBM says that it has no plans to avail itself of the facility. The Association says that it has made no findings of improper conduct by Fujitsu, which has always maintained that it has relied solely on unprotected IBM information; it also says that the settlement ends all disputes between the two companies over software already released by Fujitsu. The arbitrators have still to decide the lump sum that Fujitsu must pay, and the exact duration of the facility for the two firms to examine each other’s software. The settlement completely alters the plug- compatible mainframe environment, and is an enormous boost for Fujitsu. The company has felt so embattled by the pressure from IBM that it was talking last year in terms of abandoning the policy of IBM compatibility, and some observers had looked to it to try to establish Unix as an alternative mainframe standard. Fujitsu can now press ahead with its battle plan to compete fiercely with IBM, and may well now want its 47%-owned Amdahl Corp to start marketing its alternative to MVS; up to now, Amdahl has firmly turned its face against running anything other than IBM operating software or its own on the machines it sells. On the continent, however, the victory has come too late to save what was Fujitsu’s most valuable alliance, that with decades-long partner Siemens AG. Last year, Siemens became so agitated at the IBM pressure that it stopped marketing its BS3000-badged version of Fujitsu’s OS1V and advised users of it to sign with IBM for MVS; it later merged its plug-compatible business with that of BASF and the resulting merged company, Comparex AG, is strongly favouring IBMulators from Hitachi over those manufactured by Fujitsu.