The case is being brought by the Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action, (GIRCA), an association of over 600 Gypsy organisations.
The lawsuit is apparently based on IBM's alleged provision of the punch-cards and early computing devices that allowed Nazi Germany to organise the attempted extermination of Jews and Gypsies of Europe.
According to GIRCA's web site, New York-based IBM ran the operation from an "unregistered establishment" named "International Business Machines Corp. New York, European Headquarters", which opened in 1935 at 14, Mont-Blanc Street, Geneva.
The legal action was lodged in the Geneva First Instance Court on 31st January 2002, and preliminary hearings will start on 20th March 2003. According to GIRCA, the aim of the lawsuit is "to make Swiss Courts recognise the complicity of IBM with the crimes against humanity committed between 1933 and 1945."
GIRCA claims that, if successful, the lawsuit would bring compensation to the few living Gypsy Holocaust survivors, and fund health and educational projects for impoverished Gypsies in Europe.
Gypsies have long argued that, although they are the poorest ethnic group in Europe, they have been excluded from recent Holocaust compensation settlements in Germany and Switzerland.
IBM was sued in the past by Jewish Holocaust survivors over similar allegations, but the case was dropped following fears that it could block a settlement between Germany and Switzerland on other Holocaust compensation claims.