IBM launches lawsuit against LzLabs in IP battle

IBM alleges that LzLabs has violated patents and stolen IP through reverse engineering.

IBM has filed a lawsuit against LzLabs for allegedly infringing patents and "deliberately" stealing intellectual property. 

Founded in 2011, LzLabs is the developer of container migration software for the enterprise. LzLabs has created a managed software container for moving apps from mainframes into cloud environments or Linux systems. 

On Monday, IBM said in a statement that LzLabs, a company based in Zürich, Switzerland, "has violated IBM's intellectual property rights by repeatedly infringing upon company patents protecting various aspects of IBM's high-performance mainframe systems, a core technology that clients depend on for their most important workloads."

The lawsuit has been filed in US District Court in Waco, Texas. LzLabs recently expanded into the North American market. 

The patents at the heart of the lawsuit are two that describe methods in the IBM mainframe "that LzLabs must emulate with or translate into Intel x86 instructions," and two patents that improve emulation and translation efficiency. 

Another patent that has allegedly been violated relates to the translation of IBM mainframe applications "wherein IBM programs called by those applications are identified and an x86 substituted for each."

According to IBM, LzLabs has not only allegedly utilized patents without permission, but has also "deliberately misappropriated IBM trade secrets" by tearing apart IBM technologies through "reverse engineering, reverse compiling and translating IBM software."

As a result, IBM's accusations have also extended to the claim of false claims and potentially misleading customers over LzLabs products. 

IBM is seeking an injunction against LzLabs, as well as other forms of legal "relief."

According to the tech giant, LzLabs's ownership and management team contain a number of individuals who previously operated Neon Enterprise Software, LLC, from Austin, Texas. 

Neon and IBM were embroiled in a long lawsuit, with both parties suing each other over mainframe technologies. While Neon claimed that IBM was implementing anticompetitive business practices, IBM countered with claims that Neon's zPrime solutions were infringing its intellectual property. 

The companies settled in 2011 and Neon submitted to a permanent injunction barring zPrime from the market. 

"IBM has made a significant investment in research and development in this critical technology field and will aggressively defend its investments and resulting patents against those who violate them, as LzLabs has now repeatedly done," the company added. 

ZDNet has reached out to LzLabs and we will update when we hear back. 

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