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DOJ Probe of IBM Only Part of Broad Look at Tech, Source Says

The Justice Department is indeed investigating IBM's alleged abuses of monopoly power in the mainframe computer and software market, according to a source with knowledge of the agency's activities.

But it's among many reviews within the high-tech industry, the source said, and this one is "sort of your garden variety." Check out my post and a longer story by the New York Times yesterday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said the antitrust division of the agency is most focused on "trend-setting" areas such as online search, cloud computing and derivatives in the financial sector that are at the "tipping point of innovation." The agency believes these areas are where the impact of potential bottlenecks and anti-competitive activities by corporations could be broad.

As such, the source said the agency's probe of Google's settlement with book authors and publishers is "going well." A settlement over the rights to digital titles will go up before a federal court as early as next month in a fairness hearing to determine whether it is fair to competitors and is in the public interest.

In September, Justice recommended a federal court judge reject the settlement between Google and authors and publishers, saying the search giant and authors and publishers needed to renegotiate their settlement to address anti-competitive concerns. Justice said that the settlement as written at the time could potentially lead to copyright infringements and might give Google an unfair advantage in the fast-growing digital book market.

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 9, 2009; 10:47 AM ET
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Next: My Q&A With Steve Largent, Wireless's Top Lobbyist on Net Neutrality

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