Spain Investigates “Anticompetitive” Oracle

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Spanish authorities are examining HP’s claims of anticompetitive practices by Oracle relating to Itanium support

The Spanish National Competition Authority has opened an investigation into anticompetitive practices by Oracle.

On July 28 the the Directorate of Investigation of the National Competition Commission (CNC) opened formal infringement proceedings against Oracle for its alleged abuse of its dominant position in the relational database management systems market. CNC has opened infringement proceedings against Oracle for possible anticompetitive behaviour.

HP Seeks Itanium Commitment

The case was triggered by a complaint filed by Hewlett Packard, through its Spanish division, concerning alleged practices prohibited by Article 2 of the Spanish Competition Act 15/July 3, 2007 and by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

In HP’s statement on the case, the company said, “HP continues to pursue all avenues to enforce Oracle’s commitments to HP and our shared customers, and will continue to take actions to protect its customers’ best interests. It is our hope that Oracle will honour its commitments to HP and to our shared customers.

An English translation of  the CNC press release reads: “In the context of the investigations of this file, the Directorate of Investigation has had access to certain information from which it can be concluded that there are rational evidence that Oracle has infringed Article 2 of the SCA and Article 102 TFEU through an abusive exploitation of a dominant position. In particular, these practices result from Oracle’s decision, announced on March 22, 2011, to suspend all development of software for the Itanium processor of Intel, mostly used in the Integrity family of HP’s servers, which could entail an unjustified refusal to supply services and an abusive discrimination. Furthermore, these practices include a new pricing policy of Oracle’s Enterprise relational databases implemented as from December 2010, which can give rise to abusive discrimination.”

The CNC has a maximum time period of 18 months to investigate and decide on the case.

In June, HP threatened to sue Oracle for ending its Itanium support. On June 8, HP sent Oracle a letter saying Oracle’s decision to drop support for the Itanium platform violated contractual agreements with HP and harmed the companies’ 140,000 shared customers.

As with other anticompetitive legal actions, against the likes of Microsoft, IBM and others, that began in Europe and spread elsewhere, this is not likely to be the last time this issue will arise for Oracle.

Meanwhile, as the two sides battle over the Itanium issue, mutual competitor IBM continues to march on in the server and database businesses.

In an interview with eWEEK in late May, Rod Adkins, senior vice president of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, said: “HP has invested enormous resources in Itanium. What you’ve seen lately is more and more IT vendors withdrawing support for the platform. The latest being Oracle’s decision to stop writing software for Itanium. As we spend more time with clients it becomes clear their view is that HP has no roadmap beyond what is currently available. I do believe there is a dead end for Itanium.”

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