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DOJ Probes IBM on Mainframe Monopoly

The Department of Justice has begun a preliminary investigation into whether IBM has abused its monopoly in mainframe computers, used mainly for commercial enterprises, according to a trade association that filed a complaint with the government.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association said IBM blocked competition in the mainframe market by denying competitors the ability to license IBM's software to run competing hardware. IBM's software, the group says, has become the defacto programming platform for mainframe computers.

"IBM has exploited its monopoly in mainframe operating systems to keep its customers 'locked in' to the IBM mainframe platform," Ed Black, CEO of CCIA wrote in a summary of the industry's complaint to the DOJ's antitrust branch. CCIA's members include IBM rivals Microsoft and Oracle.

Black said the DOJ has begun its investigation and that competitors have received requests for documents and other materials.

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 8, 2009; 7:45 AM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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