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Europe Investigating IBM For Anticompetitive Behavior In Computer Mainframe Market

Posted  August 9, 2010

Big Blue is under scrutiny again by antitrust authorities – this time in the European Union.

On July 26, 2010, the European Commission opened two formal investigations of International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) to probe allegations of IBM’s anticompetitive behavior in the mainframe computer market.  These investigations come on the heels of the investigation launched in October 2009 by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding IBM’s mainframe business.

The EC opened one of the investigations to determine whether IBM has engaged in practices designed to shut out competition for supplying maintenance services for mainframes.  In particular, the EC suspects that IBM may have been “restricting or delaying access to spare parts for which IBM is the only source” in order to stamp out competitors.

The second investigation is looking into whether IBM is improperly tying its mainframe operating system to its mainframe hardware.  Before the investigation had commenced, software emulator providers T3 and TurboHercules had filed complaints alleging that IBM’s tying practices are unfairly preventing customers from using IBM’s mainframe operating system on non-IBM hardware.

According to the EC, approximately 8.5 billion euros ($11 billion) worldwide and roughly 3 billion euros ($4 billion) in Europe were spent in 2009 on new mainframe hardware and operating systems.

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