September 18, 2008

Japan Finds Microsoft Violating Antitrust Law

Tokyo, Sept. 18 (Jiji Press)--Japan's Fair Trade Commission said Thursday it has ruled that Microsoft Corp. violates the nation's antitrust law over its software licensing deals with Japanese firms.

The FTC found that the deals are anticompetitive because they make the U.S. software giant immune from patent infringement suits in Japan.

The deals include a nonassertion of patents provision stipulating that the Japanese companies can initiate no suits even if Microsoft uses their technologies in its flagship Windows operating system software.

The provision was included into deals signed between January 2001 and July 2004 that allowed Japanese personal computer makers to use Windows in their products.

Japanese makers such as Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. have accused Microsoft of violating their patents by using their technologies in its Windows Media Player software for playing audio and video files.

In its latest ruling, the FTC orders Microsoft to make the provision invalid for Japanese companies' patents on audio and video technologies.

Microsoft is allowed to file a suit with Tokyo High Court to demand that the FTC's order be rescinded. If the ruling stands, Microsoft could be obliged to make royalty payments to the Japanese companies.END

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