Europe accepts IBM antitrust concession; Drops investigation

European antitrust chiefs will drop an investigation into IBM, after concessions were made to steer the Commission away from a ruling.

European regulators are ending an antitrust investigation into IBM, after concessions made by the computing giant were accepted.

The European Commission released a statement this morning, stating that it was "pleased" it could find a "swift solution with IBM" regarding its concerns over anti-competitive behaviour.

While the European regulator was keen to stress that it had previously thought IBM was abusing its dominant position, the company put forward a series of commitments it would abide by, thus ending any further action or a formal ruling.

IBM has not yet been proven to have broken European law. But the Commission made it clear that should the commitments that ended this investigation be broken, then it would be found infringing the law "without having to prove a violation of competition rules".

Companies that flout European antitrust and anti-competition laws can face fines up to 10 percent of their global annual turnover.

In mid-2010, the European Commission began investigating whether IBM was abusing its dominance of the mainframe maintenance markets. Allegations were made that the computing giant "hindered the access" of maintenance providers to critical spare parts, putting these smaller firms at a disadvantage.

In September, the Commission found that IBM was willing to comply with the regulator's demands.

Today's result however shows that IBM's commitments to change its polices and open up to third-party vendors are now legally binding, resulting in the end of the investigation.

This is the second case that the Commission has ended this year where IBM has been involved.