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Justice Dept. Supports Oracle In EU Dispute

The U.S. agency's antitrust division said Oracle's purchase of Sun wouldn't harm competition in the database market.
The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division has sided with Oracle in its dispute with the European Union over the firm's proposed purchase of Sun Microsystems. The issue centers primarily on whether combining Sun's open source MySQL with Oracle's proprietary enterprise database is anticompetitive.

The antitrust division's stance, announced late Monday, wasn't entirely unexpected, because it previously examined the issue after Oracle made its bid for Sun in April. After examining the proposed merger, the division approved it.

"After conducting a careful investigation of the proposed transaction between Oracle and Sun, the Department's Antitrust Division concluded that the merger is unlikely to be anticompetitive. This conclusion was based on the particular facts of the transaction and the Division's prior investigations in the relevant industries," said deputy assistant attorney general Molly Boast in a statement.

Noting that the DOJ unit and the EU regulatory agency share a "strong and positive relationship on competition policy matters," Boast said the antitrust division hopes that the EU and the two companies reach a speedy resolution benefitting EU consumers.

In her statement, Boast noted that the DOJ investigation determined that the large MySQL community has enough developers and users of the open source database to continue to maintain and improve the software and "could support a derivative version of it."

"There are many open-source and proprietary database competitors," Boast said. "The Division concluded, based on the specific facts at issue in the transaction, that consumer harm is unlikely because customers would continue to have choices from a variety of well established and widely accepted database products."

EU and U.S. antitrust agencies units often see eye-to-eye on violations, although the degree and individual issues may differ somewhat. For instance, regulatory agencies in the U.S. and the EU complained of regulatory violations by Microsoft and Intel.

Earlier in the decade, the DOJ charged Oracle with antitrust violations when it moved to acquire PeopleSoft. However, Oracle prevailed in U.S. federal courts and went on to acquire PeopleSoft.

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