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China denies reports of Microsoft antitrust investigation

Microsoft says it's 'in compliance' with Chinese law

June 19, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - China today called reports that its antitrust regulators are investigating Microsoft Corp. "seriously untrue" in a notice posted online by the country's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO).

Yesterday, the state-run newspaper Shanghai Securities News said the office was looking into possible monopolistic practices of large software companies, including Microsoft. According to the newspaper, local companies might file lawsuits when a new anti-monopoly law, China's first, takes effect Aug. 1. The statute is meant to protect Chinese companies from predatory practices by powerful multinationals.

The notice on the SIPO site today, however, said talk of investigations is untrue. "Our office has never conducted research on monopoly behavior aimed at any enterprises," the notice read, according to a translation by the Associated Press. "And at present we have no plan to conduct this work."

The only research that the office has recently commissioned, said SIPO, was a study of software piracy rates in China. It published the results of that study on May 28.

Also yesterday, Microsoft officials said they didn't know of any investigation by the People's Republic of China. "Microsoft is unaware of any investigation but is always willing to work with and cooperate with the Chinese government," a company spokesman based in Singapore told the IDG News Service Wednesday.

When asked today for comment on the SIPO denial, a company spokesman in the U.S. said, "We fully support China's efforts to establish an environment conducive to promoting fair competition, and we believe we are in compliance with Chinese law."

Microsoft has tangled with antitrust regulators elsewhere for more than a decade. In the U.S., Microsoft and the federal and several state governments agreed to a settlement in 2001, while in the European Union, Microsoft has been repeatedly fined after losing a 2004 case.

The EU's Competition Commission, which has levied fines of more than $2.4 billion against the company, is still investigating the company for possible violations related to its Office suite and Internet Explorer browser.

In Asia, the Korea Fair Trade Commission fined Microsoft $32 million in 2005, and ordered the company to create versions of Windows XP that did not include Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger.

Read more about Legal in Computerworld's Legal Topic Center.



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