Beijing launches Microsoft probe

China's State Intellectual Property Office has launched an anti-monopoly investigation into US software giant Microsoft and other software developers suspected of monopoly activities.


China has begun an anti-monopoly investigation into US software giant Microsoft and lawsuits by local companies could follow, state media reported Wednesday.

China's State Intellectual Property Office and some research institutions have targeted Microsoft and several other global software firms over suspected monopoly activities, the Shanghai Securities News said.

Firms will be organised to file lawsuits against the software giants after China's debut anti-monopoly law comes into effect on August 1, unnamed sources told the newspaper.

The probe by Chinese regulators focuses on operating systems and other software developed by international companies that cost much more in China than in the US, one source was quoted as saying.

"One one hand, global software firms, taking advantage of their monopoly position, set unreasonably high prices for genuine software while on the other hand, they criticise Chinese for poor copyright awareness. This is abnormal."

"With the anti-monopoly law in place, Chinese government and companies have the obligation and right to correct the situation," the source said.

One set of the Windows operating system plus Microsoft Office software can cost up to 7,000 yuan (1,015 dollars) in China, making it more expensive than a personal computer, the source said.

A spokesman with Beijing-based Microsoft China was not immediately available for comment when AFP contacted the firm. The State Intellectual Property Office also could not immediately be reached for comment.

China's parliament passed the country's first anti-monopoly law last year, sparking concern among US and European business groups.

The law requires that proposed mergers or takeovers of Chinese firms by foreign companies must be checked to ensure that they do not endanger national security or lead to monopolies.

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