EU Probes IBM Over 'Abuse' of Market Power

The charges relate to the firm's mainframe computer business, following complaints by rival software makers T3 and Turbo Hercules as well as commission concerns over IBM's relations with maintenance suppliers.

European competition enforcers announced on July 26 that they were probing computer giant IBM.

"The European Commission has decided to initiate formal antitrust investigations against IBM Corporation in two separate cases of alleged infringements of EU antitrust rules related to the abuse of a dominant market position," it said.

The charges relate to the firm's mainframe computer business, following complaints by rival software makers T3 and Turbo Hercules as well as commission concerns over IBM's relations with maintenance suppliers.

The market for mainframes is worth some 8.5 billion euros (US$11 billion) worldwide in 2009, and some three billion euros just in Europe.

"IBM is alleged to have engaged in illegal tying of its mainframe hardware products to its dominant mainframe operating system," the EU said, with the complainants arguing that the practice "shuts out providers of emulation technology which could enable the users to run critical applications on non-IBM hardware."

Brussels also fears that IBM is "keeping potential competitors out of the market... in particular by restricting or delaying access to spare parts for which IBM is the only source."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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