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Compuware asks court to punish IBM

Software maker says Big Blue kept hold of key evidence to delay a resolution to a long-running legal spat over copyrighted code.

Software maker Compuware has charged IBM with keeping back key evidence in a long-running legal battle over copyright and anticompetitive practices.

In an emergency motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan, Compuware said that IBM failed to introduce crucial evidence, including several pieces of disputed software source code, until after the close of the case's discovery period.

The company said IBM's move was a calculated effort to delay a ruling in the case and so weaken Compuware's chance of winning the lawsuit.

"Introducing this evidence more than two years after the Court requested it and less than 90 days before the scheduled start of the trial is nothing but a last-ditch attempt to sandbag Compuware with additional burdens and delays," Compuware said in the filing.

Compuware is calling for the court to impose "severe sanctions" on IBM and to grant other relief.

IBM representatives said the move is an attempt by its rival to speed judgment in the case. Tim Bruer, a spokesman for IBM, said it was a "litigation tactic" designed to draw attention away from the fact that the source code provided by Big Blue to the court disproves the basis of the original lawsuit.

"Having been given the information it claims it needed to prove its case, Compuware now wants to deny (the source code's) existence," Bruer said.

The original court case dates back to March 2002, when Compuware, a software developer for mainframe computers, filed a claim charging Big Blue with theft of trade secrets and with pirating Compuware's copyrighted code in IBM File Manager and Fault Analyzer products.

The suit also alleged that IBM had used its "monopoly power" in mainframe hardware and software markets to undermine competition and had engaged in other unfair business practices.

In last week's motion, Compuware said that IBM's employees and lawyers had repeatedly denied that the disputed source code existed before delivering it on July 11, less than 90 days before the start of the trial, scheduled for Nov. 8.

Bruer said that IBM had been searching for the code--the earliest version of the underlying technology for the File Manager and Fault Analyzer--since the courts first asked for the information in 2002. He said that IBM plans to respond to the new motion "in due course," and indicated that the company remains confident that all of Compuware's legal claims will be disproved.

In 2003, Compuware asked the court for a preliminary injunction to stop IBM from selling the disputed File Manager and Fault Analyzer, which compete with Compuware's own mainframe applications. At that time, the court denied Compuware's request, citing a lack of sufficient evidence.