EU extends MS, Time Warner probe

The European Commission (EU) opened an in-depth investigation on Wednesday into plans by Microsoft and Time Warner to take over US digital rights management (DRM) company ContentGuard Holdings.

The transaction might create or strengthen a dominant position by Microsoft in the digital rights management market, the Commission said in a statement.

As part of the investigation the Commission will also investigate further competitive concerns related to the vertical integration of Microsoft in other markets, it said.

Microsoft had no comment on the decision early Wednesday. Time Warner, based in New York, was not immediately available to comment.

In April, Microsoft announced that it was increasing its investment in the Maryland, DRM firm, while Time Warner said that it was adding a new cash injection. Together the companies purchased substantially all the ownership previously held by ContentGuard's original technology provider Xerox. The value of their investments has not been disclosed.

They sought clearance for the deal from the EU in July, when the Commission opened a first-phase investigation. The in-depth second phase investigation could take up to four months, the Commission said.

Both Microsoft and Time Warner are keen to invest in DRM, which is used to protect digital content against illegal uses. Concerns have been raised, however, that Microsoft and Time Warner could wield their combined power in the software and media markets, respectively, to dominate the DRM market.

The in-depth probe will evaluate whether the ContentGuard deal will put Microsoft's rivals in the DRM market at a disadvantage or whether the joint acquisition will slow development of open interoperability standards, the Commission said Wednesday.

Such outcomes could tip the DRM market toward the current leading provider, Microsoft, the Commission said.

The ContentGuard probe follows the EU's scrutiny of Microsoft's dominance in the PC operating systems market. The Commission wrapped up its five-year investigation into the software maker earlier this year when it levied a fine of Euro 497.2 million, or around US$600 million, and ordered Microsoft to offer a version of its Windows operating system without the Windows Media Player software for abusing its dominance in the market. Microsoft has appealed the decision.

The worldwide DRM market is expected to grow quickly over the next few years, generating revenue of around US$563 million by 2007, according to IDC. Furthermore, the researcher predicted that over 70 percent of DRM revenue in 2007 would be derived from the Windows operating environment.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scarlet Pruitt

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?