Spanish competition regulator investigates Microsoft

A software reseller has alleged that Microsoft unjustifiably prevents resale of licenses to its applications

Spain's National Competition Commission is investigating whether Microsoft has unjustifiably prevented or limited resale of software licenses, in breach of Spanish and European Union competition laws, the Commission announced Tuesday.

The investigation of Microsoft Iberia and Microsoft Ireland Operations began on Sept. 15, according to an online database of Commission activities.

The Commission has already found information suggesting that Microsoft breached articles 1 and 2 of the Spanish Competition Act, and articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the E.U., the Commission said. The investigation could go on for up to 18 months, it said.

The investigation was triggered by a complaint filed on Jan. 3 by Spanish company Elegant Business, operator of a website specializing in reselling software licenses, www.softbrocker.com.

On that site, Elegant Business notes that it has the right to resell software licenses under the E.U.'s 2001 directive on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

Article 28 of that directive limits copyright holders' ability to control sales of their works within the E.U. to the first sale only.

Microsoft maintains that software licenses are different however: In a January 2010 news release aimed at the Spanish market, it said that the transfer of software licenses is subject to the consent of the copyright holder, and that transfers can only legally be made in very specific cases, such as when two companies merge or when a company splits up.

However, the license terms for Microsoft Office 2010 published on Microsoft's website do not forbid transfer of the license, and the restrictions imposed on such transfers appear primarily to prevent the first party from retaining use of the application when transferring title to a third party.

If found guilty of breaking Spanish competition laws, Microsoft faces a fine of up to 10 percent of the offending business unit's revenue in the preceding year. In practice, the fine would be calculated as a percentage of the sales volume affected by the violation, a Commission spokesman said.

Microsoft didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftlegalsoftwareantitrust

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?