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IBM offered to give technical information and certain spare parts to other companies that maintain IBM's mainframe hardware and software

It seems as if the European Union (EU) is making a sport out of probing tech companies and charging them billions in fines. For instance, the EU slammed Microsoft with a 1.4 billion fine back in 2008 for violating antitrust laws. The EU has repeatedly attacked the company before and after that. In addition, the EU announced last week that it is still investigating Google's search dominance, saying that the search giant may have abused competitors.

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) was thrown into two EU antitrust investigations last July, where competing suppliers of mainframe maintenance services accused IBM of "discriminatory behavior" in refusing to supply such inputs required for maintenance. 

The second investigation, which examined whether 
IBM was unfairly tying its mainframe hardware with its operating system, has recently been closed.

A preliminary assessment for the first investigation by the EU found that IBM's procedures "may amount to a constructive refusal to supply these inputs." The EU's executive Commission added, "IBM does not agree with the Commission's preliminary assessment. It has nevertheless offered meet the Commission's competition concerns." 

IBM's offering of concessions could settle the EU's investigation and allow it to dodge any fines or antitrust infringement findings. 

IBM offered to give technical information and certain spare parts to other companies that maintain IBM's mainframe hardware and software under specific, non-discriminatory terms, according to Reuters.

The concessions would last for five years, and now, the EU says third party companies have one month to discuss the proposals. If the proposals are accepted, IBM will not be fined. But if the EU finds that IBM committed antitrust infringement, it may have to pay fines of up to 10 percent of global revenues. 

"I commend IBM's readiness to address our concerns about fair competition in the market for large computers which are crucial for the functioning of today's economy," said Joaquin Almunia, EU competition commissioner.

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By AssBall on 9/20/2011 12:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
If the money went to competitors or customers I could see your point. Otherwise it is just a tax. Prices will go up to pay the fines, consumers get hurt, employees get hurt. No one comes off ahead except the governments.

By BZDTemp on 9/20/2011 1:23:10 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're wrong but even we say it's a tax then it's a tax that influences how a certain company operates. This will have the effect that A. said company stops abusing it's position and B. remind other companies that should operate within the laws.

As for hurting consumers you got that very wrong.

It will maybe hurt the share holders of the company that was fined but it would be more correct to say the share holders no longer benefit from a company doing their business in illegal ways.

With regards to the consumers then certainly they benefit. If one company gets to use their control of a market to gain control over other markets then that is the start of a very bad spiral. Take Microsoft which was forced to not use their OS market control to gain control of the media player market and the browser market (to name just two examples). If that had not been done Microsoft might have made their Media Player their de-facto standard which then would have enabled them to control media types and maybe get a license fee on all media sold online - this is of course "what if" speculation but the scenario should be pretty clear.

Finally as for the governments getting ahead then remember we are talking democracies not companies in disguise. The governments acts on behalf of the people for the benefit of the people - it may not work perfect all the time but it does work pretty well most of the time.

By AssBall on 9/20/2011 1:33:17 PM , Rating: 1
Finally as for the governments getting ahead then remember we are talking democracies not companies in disguise.

When you look at our federal reserve bank, all of our regulatory and taxation laws, and our leaders' insane perks our democracy suddenly looks exactly like a corporation in disguise.

By idiot77 on 9/20/2011 10:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I'll even say you are right. (Not really)

However, if the Governments get the money, who runs the government?

It's not like the US where the companies run it. It actually goes back to citizens since they are much more socialized.

Did I make your brain hurt?

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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