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Microsoft To Face China Antitrust Woes?

Just as Microsoft seems to be patching up antitrust relations with the U.S. government, a Chinese newspaper suggested today that the company could be subject to antitrust legal actions in China.

Shanghai Securities News reported today that Chinese firms could sue Microsoft when China's anti-monopoly law takes effect on August 1, according to an AFP account. Chinese regulators also are investigating software costs, in which it may cost "much more" to buy software in China compared with in the United States, Shanghai Securities News said.

Antitrust investigations have begun and are being conducted by China's State Intellectual Property Office, according to AFP, citing an unnamed spokeswoman for the office. A Microsoft spokesperson issued a statement indicating that the company was "unaware of any investigation."

Meanwhile, in Europe, Microsoft is still battling charges of anticompetitive behavior.

In May, Microsoft appealed an 899 million Euro penalty imposed by the European Union. The European Commission had found Microsoft's royalty charges for work-group server protocols to be excessive. A recent speech by Neelie Kroes, European commissioner for competition, referenced that penalty, while also advocating that European companies buy open standards-based software.

Ironically, reports have suggested that the EC hasn't followed that advice. Reuters cited Christos Ellindes, a director of corporate IT solutions and services who advises the EC as saying that "for the moment we are working in a Microsoft environment."

However, Ellindes' boss, Francisco Garcia Moran, director general of directorate general (informatics) denied that the EC just runs Microsoft solutions. In an e-mailed reply reported in a Techworld story, Garcia Moran said that the EC uses both commercial and open source solutions.

In the United States, the U.S. Department of Justice today issued an interim report on Microsoft's compliance with terms of a 2003 antitrust final judgment. The report is one of a series that Microsoft submits to as part of a settlement agreement with the federal government over the company's past abuse of its monopoly position.

The new DOJ report was stuck on just three issues according to a CNET News.com blog. The DOJ's complaints were mostly associated with reporting issues and deletions in drafts.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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