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EU probes IBM over abuse of market power

BRUSSELS, July 26 – European competition enforcers announced on Monday they were probing computer giant IBM on two separate cases relating to antitrust infringements.

"The European Commission has decided to initiate formal antitrust investigations against IBM Corporation in two separate cases of alleged infringements of EU antitrust rules related to the abuse of a dominant market position," it said in a statement.

The charges relate to the firm\’s mainframe computer business, following complaints by rival software makers T3 and Turbo Hercules as well as commission concerns over IBM\’s relations with maintenance suppliers.

Mainframes, the huge computers used by governments and big companies, is a market worth some 8.5 billion euros (11 billion dollars) worldwide in 2009, and some three billion euros just in Europe.

"IBM is alleged to have engaged in illegal tying of its mainframe hardware products to its dominant mainframe operating system," the EU said, with the complainants arguing that the practice "shuts out providers of emulation technology which could enable the users to run critical applications on non-IBM hardware."

Brussels also fears that IBM is "keeping potential competitors out of the market… in particular by restricting or delaying access to spare parts for which IBM is the only source."

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