Google: In Feb. 2010, EU antitrust authorities opened a preliminary inquiry into complaints about Google's tactics from three European Internet companies. The inquiry focuses on complaints that Google unfairly ranks the sites of the Internet competitors by lowering their rank in search results on Google sites.
Oracle: In Sept. 2009, the EU launched an in-depth investigation over concerns that Oracle's ownership of the open source MySQL database software would pose a competitive threat in the database market, delaying the closing of the Sun acquisition. The EU finally approved Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems in Jan. 2010.
Intel: In May 2009, Intel was fined a record $1.5 billion by the European Commission for anti-competitive practices. The Commission found that between 2002 and 2007, Intel had paid manufacturers and retailer to favor its chips over those of Advanced Micro Devices.
Microsoft: In 2004, the EU fined Microsoft about $750 million for abusing its dominant market position. In February 2008, the EU fined Microsoft an additional amount of about $1.35 billion for failure to comply with the March 2004 antitrust decision. In May 2008, the EU announced it would investigate Microsoft Office's OpenDocument format support. In January 2009, the European Commission announced it would investigate the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows operating systems from Microsoft.
On the other hand, for those of you who believe in coincidences, SAP's recent acquisition of Sybase sailed through the EU's shop of horrors. Could that breezy approval have had anything to do with the fact that SAP is based on the EU's home turf in Germany? For myself, I don't believe in coincidences.
Ultimately, this systemic abuse will be built into the cost of doing business by these huge global companies and the costs will be borne, as they always are, by the customers. That, I am certain, is the dead-last concern on the EU's list. Their top priority clearly seems to be their willingness to obstruct the progress of American IT companies in the global marketplace.
And why do they do it? Well, as the appropriately tawdry joke goes, because they can.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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