Fujitsu Ltd. will pay International Business Machines Corp. hundreds of millions of dollars for the use of information about the software that runs IBM mainframe computers, arbitrators said.
The arbitrators' decision ends years of dispute between IBM, the world's largest computer company, and Fujitsu, Japan's biggest computer maker, over precious information about the internal workings of IBM's mainframe computers.Fujitsu will pay IBM a total of $237 million and tens of millions of dollars each year beginning in 1989 under a complex payout plan devised by the arbitration team.
This week's announcement is the biggest development in the IBM-Fujitsu controversy since September 1987, when arbitrators announced the initial resolution of IBM's charges that Fujitsu illegally copied IBM software.
IBM's stock price, which had jumped $2.871/2 a share on Monday in expectations of a big payment from Fujitsu, edged back 621/2 cents to $118.25 a share by late morning Tuesday.
The American Arbitration Association had been holding secret hearings since then to work out the ground rules under which IBM must grant Fujitsu access to information about the software that runs IBM mainframe computers.
The rules set by the two arbitrators will make it possible for Fujitsu to develop complex, expensive software that controls the basic operations of IBM mainframe computers.
IBM, which dominates the world market for mainframe computers, is the only company making the so-called operating system software for its own machines.
The information supplied by IBM also will make it easier for Fujitsu to develop its own line of mainframe computers that compete with IBM's by running the same programs. Fujitsu and Hitachi Ltd. are IBM's two main competitors in that market. Hitachi is not covered by the terms of the IBM-Fujitsu deal.
IBM and Fujitsu issued brief statement today saying they were satisfied with the results of the arbitration.
IBM first accused Fujitsu in 1982 of illegally copying its mainframe software. The companies reached a private settlement in 1983, but the vaguely worded agreement fell apart and IBM in 1985 asked to have the dispute settled by binding arbitration.
IBM and Fujitsu have agreed to let the arbitrators supervise all disputes growing out of the case until the year 2002.