Big business under scrutiny

It seems big business is coming under increasing scrutiny in Europe with Intel and Microsoft both finding themselves in a spot of bother over the past week. In both instances the defendants are accused of using unlawful anticompetitive business practises to maintain an unfair monopoly of their respective markets.

Hungary's state Competition Authority raided Microsoft's local headquarters to gather evidence. There was no prior warning of the raid and the authorities said that this probe did not mean Microsoft had broken the law. Evidence was being collected to backup claims that Microsoft has been offering software distributors financial incentives if they avoided offering clients any office software suites other Microsoft Office. It has been suggested that this type of monopolisation of supply could break European Union laws. Microsoft are apparently cooperating with the authorities.

Meanwhile the European Union has formally lodged antitrust charges against Intel. After years of investigation by the EU, the European Commission spokesperson Ton Van Lierop said "I can confirm the statement of objections has been sent." The charge is that Intel has used illegal methods to pressurise computer manufacturers to ship systems with Intel rather than AMD processors. In one case Intel are accused of entering in to agreements with one German retailer who would only sell Intel powered PCs in exchange for undisclosed sums of money. Intel has faced similar accusations in the United States and will go on trial in 2008. Earlier this year they were charged with destroying e-mails and other documents important to the case! This looks like good news for AMD who are reporting record losses mainly due to the popularity of Intel's Core Duo processors.