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Formal complaint against company may be on the cards

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The legal threats to Microsoft's business practices also come from outside the US. Two separate events this week have brought home just how universal is this concern. In Budapest, Karel van Miert, the commissioner for DGIV, the EU competition directorate, said that the EU was "watching very closely what Microsoft is doing in Europe. If there is the slightest reason to open a case, then we will see that this is done." John Frank, Microsoft's head lawyer in Europe who responded to Novell's complaint to DGIV in 1993, seemed to miss the point deliberately when he said in a briefing to journalists "There is very little reason why [the EU] should expend resources ploughing the same ground as the Department of Justice." But the point is that Van Miert was specifically referring to Microsoft's transgressions in Europe, where it has already had to change its practices towards ISPs and SCO. It was remarkable that Van Miert's remark could be seen to be encouraging of another formal complaint under Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty of Rome. Far away in Brazil, the Secreatria de Direito Economico - in effect Brazil's competition law watchdog - is investigating an exclusive agreement between Microsoft and TBA Informatica over artificially high prices for Microsoft products licensed to the Brazilian government. The complaint is believed to have come from TBA-rival IOS, that has apparently been denied the right to compete for government contracts. Investigations of Microsoft's business practices are also under way in South Korea and Japan. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories

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