Risking another trans-Atlantic tussle over Microsoft, European Union antitrust regulators said yesterday they were investigating whether the software giant's deal with media conglomerate Time Warner to develop antipiracy software might lead to a new monopoly. Microsoft — already fighting to overturn last March's EU ruling that it abused its dominant position with the Windows operating systems — and Time Warner both said they were "fully cooperating" with the EU probe after initial efforts to head it off fell short. "We understand that this is a complex area," Microsoft spokesman Dirk Delmartino said.
In opening the in-depth, four-month probe, the European Commission said it was worried about Microsoft's ability to "tip" burgeoning demand for so-called "digital-rights management" in its favor, turning what is already a "leading position" in that market into a dominant one.
That echoes controversial charges the EU made in March, when it ordered Microsoft to remove its Media Player program from Windows to prevent that segment of the market from "tipping" to a Microsoft monopoly, according to the Seattle Times.
Billionaire Bill Gates’ company and Time Warner plan to go 50-50 in ownership of ContentGuard, which makes technology to protect digital files from illegal copying, an increasingly important priority for movie and video makers, recording companies and software firms.
The European Union’s executive, which regulates mergers and takeovers, said a preliminary review had revealed that the deal could create or boost a dominant position by Microsoft in the market for so-called Digital Right Management.
Earlier this year the EU fined Microsoft Ј331 million for anti-competitive practices, informs Scotsman.
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