A Devon, UK software company has stood up to the might of IBM, issuing allegations to the EC that the computing giant has abused its dominant position to squeeze its small rival out of the voice recognition market.
Allvoice has sent a document of complaint to the European Commission that cites over 30 instances where IBM is alleged to have tried to push it out of the market for voice recognition systems, contrary to Article 86 of the Treaty of Rome.
The document requests that the European Commission "commence a formal investigation into the abuses by IBM of its dominant position, and the restrictions of competition stated."
Such proceedings, if a case were proved, could lead to high penalties for IBM, including a loss of a percentage of its profits in this market.
Allvoice - which has developed the voice recognition system called WordExpress and whose customers include the BBC, BT and the House of Commons - claims that IBM used its position as a reseller of WordExpress in creating its own rival product.
IBM had allegedly told Allvoice that the information it obtained as a reseller would not be used to produce competing software. Over the past couple of years IBM has launched speech recogniser products which "incorporate many WordExpress functions", according to the Devon company.
The alleged abuses include IBM intervening to prevent Allvoice licensing various products, and to stop distributors from acquiring Allvoice products; publishing the wrong date for an Allvoice seminar; arranging an IBM seminar to clash with an Allvoice event; suggesting to a dealer in Australia and a US developer that they should not deal with Allvoice; and refusing to give technical support to Allvoice for IBM hardware.
IBM is also accused of abusively obtaining and using confidential product marketing information. Allvoice said in the complaint that, as a result of these infringements, it has suffered a loss of revenue and profit.
John Mitchell, managing director of Allvoice, said: ?We want consumers to have access to a range of software in a competitive market, rather than from one big firm in a dominant position.?
A spokesperson for IBM said that he could not comment on an issue that was involved in legal proceedings.
Mitchell was surprised by this response. ?If they are involved in legal proceedings then it?s news to me. We have made a complaint to an administrative body who are dealing with it. No legal proceedings have been instigated on our part,? he said.
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