U.S. Justice Department Opens Antitrust Probe of IBM

Investigating mainframe computer business

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) said on Oct. 8 that the U.S. Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into computer giant IBM over its mainframe computer business.

The inquiry into IBM was opened on the basis of a complaint by CCIA, which was formed over 30 years ago to battle market dominance by "Big Blue." A CCIA spokeswoman said the complaint detailing allegedly abusive practices by IBM in the mainframe business was submitted to the Justice Department by the CCIA in September.

She said the association, whose members include many large U.S. technology companies but not IBM, had been informed by a member firm that it had received a formal request for information known as a Civil Investigative Demand (CID).

She quoted CCIA president Ed Black as saying: "It's a fair assumption DoJ wouldn't be sending these (CIDs) if they didn't think there's a broad pattern of abusive conduct."

The spokeswoman said the CCIA believed other companies have also received CIDs from the Justice Department related to the complaint against IBM or were about to do so.

The Justice Department has also been in touch with European Commission officials about the investigation, she said.

The Justice Department and IBM were not immediately available for comment.

More than 80% of the world's government and corporate data is stored on computer mainframes, with 95% of Fortune 1000 companies using IBM hardware for the job, according to the CCIA.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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