IBM Extends Pact to Aid European Firms
International Business Machines Corp. said today that it has decided to extend a 1984 antitrust settlement requiring the computer giant to give certain technical information to competitors in Europe.
The U.S. company and the European Economic Community said in a statement that the accord “has come to serve as an effective vehicle” for resolving questions on how competing machines can be hooked up to IBM equipment.
The 1984 settlement suspended a four-year antitrust case brought by the 12-nation trading bloc against IBM.
IBM was allowed under the agreement the right to give, starting Jan. 1, a year’s notice that it would end the arrangement. That meant the arrangement could have expired as early as Jan. 1, 1990.
The agreement makes it easier for other companies to compete with IBM by setting out a time schedule for release of certain data, generally within four months, to enable competing equipment to interconnect with hardware and software for IBM’s large-scale System 370 mainframe computers.
By extending the agreement, IBM avoided an uproar among Europeans, who dislike the dominance of an American-based company in the European computer market. The agreement is relatively painless for IBM and has not cut into its share of the market.
The statement said the community and the company decided that “neither foresees any change in circumstances that would cause IBM” to use its termination right.