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2/26/2004
08:20 PM
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Japan Trade Commission Raids Microsoft's Tokyo Office

Officials from Japan's fair trade watchdog raided the Japanese unit of Microsoft Corp. on Thursday on suspicion of anti-monopoly law violations, the authorities said.

Microsoft's international antitrust headaches got a little more intense Thursday, when Japan's Fair Trade Commission raided Microsoft's Tokyo headquarters looking for documentation of any possible violations of Japanese law.

The Associated Press reported Japan's fair trade watchdog carried out the raid in search of antimonopoly-law violations, but a Microsoft spokeswoman denied any wrongdoing on the part of the company and said the company is cooperating with Japanese authorities.

The news agency reported that a Fair Trade Commission official said Microsoft's Japanese unit is suspected of imposing improper restrictions on personal computer manufacturers in its dealings with those manufacturers.

In Europe, meanwhile, commissioners in the European Commission's Competition Directorate are attempting to quash reports of internal divisiveness over the Directorate's Microsoft ruling. Fifteen EU members are reviewing the ruling before a consensus is reached and the results are unveiled to the public.

The European press has published reports alleging differences among some EU officials over the details of the ruling.

At the same time, talk of a settlement between Microsoft and the EU continues to gain credence. At an investment analysts meeting in New York this week, Microsoft's chief financial officer John Connors reiterated the company's hopes of reaching a settlement with the EU. And pressure has been building for a settlement in Europe, too, as some EU sources have said the EU wants to avoid a lengthy appeal if Microsoft decides the final ruling is too onerous.

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