FIE Meeting, June 22 – Dublin

As the EU recognised us as the official representative of the ICT Aftermarket, it is our responsibility to connect with the organisations which voice we are. To share information, concerns and experiences we see personal meetings as very valuable and prefer a smaller and confidential setting.

We are pleased to invite you for our upcoming Free ICT Europe Foundation meeting: June 22nd – Dublin, Ireland

The meeting will be hosted by Origina Ltd., their office is at a 30 min drive from Dublin Airport. The meeting will start at 13.00pm


Your questions might be: What is happening in your Marketplace? What will be the impact on your business and strategy?

The foundation started based on concerns and the will to do something. We moved from creation awareness to actually becoming a part of changes in legislation. To move on, we need input and support.

This is no commercial gathering. Free ICT Europe unites, though takes no part in commercial partnerships and/or deals.

For Who?

We invite directors and management to join for this meeting. When you want to be accompanied with your Legal advisor, this is possible.

Though we see that our efforts are appreciated by end-users, we do not invite them for this meeting.

Confirm your attendence!

You can register by contacting us by e-mail or the contact form. No costs involved for the meeting: we are a guest of Origina, for the dinner we ask all to pay for themselves.

Out suggesting for the hotel is: The Beacon Hotel, 4 stars, distance 700m. We gladly support with the hotel reservation using our special rate(until May 19th).

Looking forward to speak to you in Dublin.


EU inaction would costs taxpayers €1bn+& hands it straight to US multinational

The EU made a Decision in 2011 to break the monopoly of IBM on the secondary market of maintenance and support of IBM mainframes. During the last five years mainframe users who chose Independent Service Providers (ISP) as an alternative to IBM, have reaped the benefit of millions of euro in costs savings as is to be expected in a fair, open and competitive landscape.

This Decision expired on December 14th 2016 when, in accordance with the spirit of competition rules it was expected that all the stakeholders involved would  come to a gentleman’s agreement to renew it on equitable terms. If the regulatory authorities cannot make a difference in applying Article 101 & 102 of the “Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union” (TFUE) this case shows its limitations in the real world.

ISPs need a long term “(main)frame of regulation” to protect their investments, their skills and their customers. Customers need to be sure ISPs will be able to comply with their needs. Customers need the certainty there is an authority that is strong enough to guarantee the balance between IBM and ISPs and, in case of any infringement, an authority that has the power to impose penalties.

It is illusory to believe that a multinational such as IBM would act in compliance with a Decision that is expired. It is  more realistic to consider that IBM would impose, without any negotiation, unilateral Terms and Conditions that dramatically reduces the level of the obligations IBM was forced to accept. The reality is that IBM is now ready and prepared to engage in a fast winback of the market share of the ISPs on the secondary market of services.

As a result the cost to Europe will be in excess of €250m.per year through higher maintenance and support costs with potentially up to €1bn in additional capital costs as the US giant, International Business Machines Corp (IBM), takes back total control of the mainframe hardware market in Europe.

Who will pay? Well of course it will be the European taxpayers and consumers of the large European organisations such as banks, insurance companies and financial institutions that still invest in this reliable technology that is critical to their businesses.

Don’t sleep at the wheel !

Having been alerted by the ISPs and then on its own initiative, the EU took bold step in dealing with the discriminatory behaviour toward competing suppliers of mainframe maintenance and support services. In 2016 the EU has to investigate again as, to not do so they will be handing back to IBM complete control of this lucrative market.

Despite the efforts of many European bodies and organisations to warn the EU of the potential costs of not renewing this arrangement, the Decision has not been renewed.

Nevertheless, the EU has received many requests from ISPs to re-open the case in order to renew the Decision. There is no doubt that any upcoming investigation will demonstrate IBM will again be in a monopoly without the Decision, and will come to the same conclusion it did in 2011.

Free ICT Europe is calling on the EU to make this a priority.


The inevitable impact of this on the European IT services providers who operate in this sector are job losses. Of even greater significance will be the inevitable job losses from the organisations that use mainframes as they struggle with higher costs and the need to reduce their IT budgets. People are always the first thing to go in times of austerity.

For more information email to: or call +(31) 30 698 2698

IBM EU Commitments

Five years ago the Directorate General of Competition of the European Union made a Decision related to the maintenance and the support of the IBM Mainframes. It was the result of a complaint filed 2 years before. This Decision could be compared to an earthquake as it was the first time in Europe a big IT player was forced to provide TPM’s with necessary inputs to compete on the secondary market of services. It was as well the first time a Decision article 9 was taken against an US company in favor of independent European companies. IBM was force to provide Commitments and the European Commission made them binding with a 10% penalty on the worldwide turnover in case of infringement or circumvention. This was in 2011.

Since we know how most of OEMs have been arguing about Intellectual Property in order to first withdraw the rights of customers to access bugs fixes for free and then foreclose the secondary market of services for the TPMs.

It is worth to notice that IBM was preparing its policy change (microcode update access restrictions) for Power Servers and Storage Solutions while in the meantime the company was forced to commit on making them accessible at reasonable terms and conditions microcode updates, spare parts and configuration records for mainframes.

The EU Decision will end December 14, 2016 and the subsequent contract some TPM signed (aka “TPM Agreement”) will expire at the same date. We bet the terms and conditions of the new TPM Agreement proposed by IBM will be reviewed to their lowest level while not being under the control of a Decision.

Also when you are not dealing in Mainframe products or services, this has still impact; the domination of IBM will increase their position in other segments and deeply inspire other OEMs and Software companies.

So doing nothing is absolutely no option. To get the required attention FIE supports a new complaint that has been filed to request the Commission to renew their Decision.

Update on Resale of Software

Since 2012 Reselling Software has been started by a number of brokers. Though little has been done to reassure owners of surplus software licenses and shelfware that, yes, indeed, licenses can be marketed and sold on. The European Court has restated the legality of the resale of software in Europe in its latest judgment: even where the license agreements signed up to by the licensee declared that the software was non-assignable and only for that particular licensee’s internal business purposes. But the court confirmed that the principle does not extend to software transferred on back-up discs.

Software vendors do not have not been very active in mentioning the resale option to customers. On the other side they cannot be too dismissive: they are constrained by competition (anti-trust) laws in seeking to inhibit the market in indirect ways. This can include discriminating against their customers, refusing support or seeking higher prices from those using pre-owned software. The jeopardy for them is a finding of abuse, damages and fines of up to 10% of their group’s global turnover.

An interesting perspective on support for secondary software being a potential growth market: Support costs on software generally exceed, over time, the initial license fees paid. This means that, if there were a new user of redundant software, there is the possibility of extending the vendor’s customer base and increasing, rather than damaging, its income.

Link to full article by Robin fry

Recycling is not a cure

“Reduce, Re-use, Recycle” are set as the Waste Hierarchy..

Yes recycle the things you can recycle. BUT instead of seeing recycling as ‘job done’ and feeling like we’ve done our bit to save the planet, we should all be looking a little bit deeper than that.

We should be looking to Refuse, Reduce and Re-use before we Recycle:

  • Refusing to buy the things we don’t need – being more thoughtful and deliberate about the (new) things we buy.
  • Reducing our demand for (new) things – do we really need to upgrade?
  • Re-using the things we already have: Including Repair, so it’s also about fixing, maintaining and cherishing the things we already have.

Link to article: Why I Think We Should All Recycle LESS For Recycle Week


How US and EU Courts & regulators developed their thinking on aftermarket issues

Aftermarkets are particularly important in the market of technical equipment. The downstream market for maintenance and support of both hardware and software is profitable and particularly coveted by OEM’s, often as a means to recoup their investments in research and development. In many cases these markets are contested by independent service organisations (“ISOs”), which frequently come into conflict with the manufacturers.

Read the full article that gives an interesting overview

Have you explored the secondary software market?

By Martin Thompson

Has your organization explored the secondary software market? Buying and selling used software can free up much needed IT budgets and reduce compliance and audit headaches.

Software is an asset and should be treated and managed as such, like other business assets (in certain conditions).

Click the link below for access to a comprehensive whitepaper on the risks and opportunities with secondary software.

The paper has been compiled by CIGREF, a network for large companies in France and SOFTCORNER, a marketplace for secondary software and FIE supporter.

Thank you to CIGREF and SOFTCORNER for sharing their paper.


John Deere restrictive practices hinder maintenance for Farmers

John Deere and General Motors want to eviscerate the notion of ownership. Sure, we pay for their vehicles. But we don’t own them. Not according to their corporate lawyers, anyway.

In spectacular display of market manipulation, John Deere—the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker- told the US Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Computer code is so embedded within modern tractors; farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”  It’s John Deere’s tractor, folks. You’re just driving it. Or in modern software parlance ; “Tractor as a service”.

We live in a digital age, and even the physical goods we buy are complex. Copyright is impacting more people than ever before because the line between hardware and software, physical and digital has blurred. Due to the restrictive practices of manufacturers such as John Deere, farmers are now depending on the external service capabilities of original suppliers, with mechanics to be flown in at, high costs while equipment is left unavailable for days.  As opposed to, for example, fixing the tractor using a tractor mechanic in the same town.


Once we buy an object — software is also an object — we should own it. We should be able to open it, to lift the hood, unlock it, modify it, repair it or have it maintained by a third party of our choice … without asking for permission from the manufacturer.

Over the last two decades, manufacturers have used the Copyright Law to argue that buyers do not own the software underpinning the products they buy—things like smartphones, computer equipment, coffeemakers, cars, and, yes, even tractors.

Product makers don’t like other people messing with their stuff, so some manufacturers place digital locks over software. Breaking the lock, making the copy, and changing something to match your needs could be construed as a violation of copyright law.

And that’s how manufacturers turn tinkerers into “pirates”— even if said “pirates” aren’t circulating illegal copies of anything.

John Deere may be out of touch, but it’s not alone. Other corporations, including trade groups representing and nearly every major automaker.  It’s worth noting Tesla Motors didn’t join automakers in this argument, even though its cars rely heavily on proprietary software.

Owners need access to repair information, replacement parts, apply security updates, maximum control to make required adjustments and freedom to decide who touches their equipment for maintenance and repair.

Free ICT Europe exists to support the owners of all ICT equipment. So let us step up to make it clear in the industry that we need a change from owner controlled ICT.

Round Table Barriers for Maintenance, Brussels – September 22

Free ICT Europe invite you to participate in an industry round table with Daniel Dalton, MEP  in the morning of 22 September 2015 at Hume Brophy, Rue de la Science 41, Brussels 1040, Belgium

Removing Barriers to Third Party Support and Maintenance

Users of ICT systems find themselves in an unenviable position of having invested significantly in ICT systems and software but lacking the full ownership rights that should accompany that ownership.

Restrictive practices, such as the use of intellectual property rights by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to limit choices and the deliberately complicated software contract/licensing rules set by software publishers, limits the freedom of businesses and consumers alike to choose their providers of product, and of support and maintenance services, resulting in higher costs for European businesses.

In order to address current barriers, and facilitate a strong secondary market for ICT, it is crucial that legislators are made aware of the restrictive practices that are inhibiting the development of an open and sustainable secondary market. These practices range from fees for secondary market products sourced through OEM channels, to retrospective licensing of firmware, all of which, are equally damaging in impact.

It is of the utmost urgency that stakeholders join together to promote common standards for the reuse and resale of equipment and software as the repercussions of allowing the status quo to continue unchallenged, are likely to prove detrimental for European businesses and the European economy as a whole.

Free ICT Europe believes in a competitive secondary ICT market that supports European businesses and increases competitiveness. As drivers of ICT efficiency, independent outsource companies have a lot to gain from ensuring that there is a vibrant and successful secondary market for ICT products and services.

Free ICT Europe are bringing together stakeholders for an industry round table discussion with Daniel Dalton MEP from the Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament to facilitate an exchange of views and raise industry concerns directly.

As a leading participant in this industry we would like to extend to you the opportunity to participate in this industry roundtable and communicate your concerns directly with our guest, Daniel Dalton MEP.

Who should attend:
This invite-only event is of particular interest to outsourcers, providers of third party support and maintenance services, and professions in the IT sector who are interested in open, competitive, markets to support growth in our industry.

The event shall be held at the offices of Hume Brophy, located in the heart of Brussels at 41 Rue de la Science, Bruxelles 1040, Belgium.

To confirm your participation please email:

MEP –Daniel Dalton: Daniel Dalton is a UK MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

A first time MEP he has established himself as a hard working and proactive member of the Internal Market with a particular interest in the ICT and information sectors.

08:15 – Welcome and breakfast
08:30 – The case for an ICT Secondary market
Free ICT Europe will explain why European companies stand to benefit from the support and development of a truly competitive secondary market for ICT support and maintenance.

08:50 – Parliament perspective. Daniel Dalton MEP
Daniel Dalton MEP will provide participants with his perspective as an MEP and member of the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament, how politicians can support this campaign.

09:15 – Roundtable discussion.
Participants will have an opportunity to raise points of concern and discuss possible ways forward to support a competitive secondary market.

09:45 – 11:00 – Open industry forum

Participants will have an opportunity to discuss the specifics of their concerns and raise solutions to be considered by Free ICT Europe.

All participants will receive a summary report on the topics of discussion and issues raised at the roundtable.

To confirm your participation please email:

Independent Industry Alliance Launches to Champion Secondary IT Market in Europe

Free ICT Europe (FIE) established to support industry expected to be worth €90bn, providing an additional 100,000 European jobs by 2017


A group of independent European IT services operators have announced the formation of an international alliance, established in order to champion the growth of the secondary IT market in Europe and to raise awareness of common industry issues. Free ICT Europe (FIE) represents members of the IT aftermarket. It aims to secure the right of ownership and the freedom for consumers and businesses alike to freely choose their sales, maintenance and repair providers.


The ICT secondary market is a critical source of value for European SMEs, multinational companies and publicly owned entities. Ensuring access to locally sourced ICT services and products enable organisations to extend the life and improve the service to ICT assets while realising better value. More than €10bn is saved each year by organisations operating in Europe as a result of the value and competition delivered by local European companies.


FIE works to address the restrictive and unfair practices undertaken by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), that prevent customers from having the freedom to support, repair and resell IT equipment and software.


Mainly composed of independent SMEs and representing over 50,000 European jobs in a market worth €30bn, the secondary IT market is characterized by a highly skilled European based workforce, serving local businesses. With the emergence of a software secondary market, the potential growth of this sector is expected to be worth €90bn and an additional 100,000 European jobs by 2017.


Christina Van Oostrum, President of Free ICT Europe commented, “FIE was formed in light of the challenges faced by our customers, and we are proud to provide a united voice for the industry to address the uncompetitive activities of OEMs. Their opaque practices lead to significant economic, social and environmental consequences for customers and Europe as a whole.”


“Above all, we want to ensure the provision of a local, reliable service to customers that represents value for money. FIE will work to safeguard the existence of the valuable European ICT secondary market by championing transparency, consumer rights, and the freedom of choice to support, repair and resell.”