HU: Hearing on Competition Of…

HU: Hearing on Competition Office complaint over Microsoft deal

Published on: 07/08/2008
News

The Metropolitan Court's (Fővárosi Bíróság) second hearing on a complaint by Hungary's Competition Office over a government software tender requesting "Microsoft or equivalent solutions" is scheduled for 1 September, the Hungarian IT news site IT Cafe reports.

The Competition Office in March decided to take the Hungarian Public Procurement Authority to court for refusing to annul the 25 billion HUF (about a 100 million euro) tender. The request to cancel the software tender was filed earlier that same month by three Hungarian IT companies specialising in Open Source software solutions, ULX, Multiráció and Open SKM.

The companies say that the tender is anti-competitive since it explicitly calls for Microsoft products.

The Public Procurement Authority denied the request. That decision is now challenged by the Competition Office. According to a report on Edigram, a web site on digital civil rights in Europe, the Competion Office claims that  the tender infringes the principle of equal treatment and restricts competition.

Microsoft and the three Open Source software companies do not take part in the dispute between the Competition Office and the Procurement Authority, writes László Pók, an Hungarian lawyer, on the Edigram site. Public administrations customarily mention specific software products in their tender, Pók explains,  for this is a practical way to provide specifications. "This practice may need to be reconsidered to avoid claims over competition infringement."

Competition

The three IT companies also asked the European Commission to review the tender. "The request for proposal makes the spread of Open Standard products almost impossible: in the document the name Microsoft is mentioned 1631 times", the companies write on 3 June in  a press release about their appeal to Competion Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

"Two weeks ago Commissioner Kroes informed us that our issue falls within the responsibility of Commissioner McCreevy, who is responsible for Internal Market and Services. She has forwarded our letter and she ensured us it will be followed up", says Peter Skazal, spokesperson for Open SKM.

"We hope that the Public Procurement Authority will withdraw, cancel and annul the tender and open a new and correct one. They should also stop mentioning product names and vendor names in their tenders."

 

More Information:
IT Cafe news item (in Hungarian)

Edri report

Bloomberg news item

Press release by the three IT companies (pdf)