The Commission has decided not to pursue the case against Digital
Equipment Corporation for breaches of competition law in return for
an undertaking from Digital on its European policy regarding the
supply and the pricing of software and hardware maintenance
services for digital computer systems.
The Commission had alleged that Digital had 'abused
its dominant position' by tying the supply of hardware and software
services and by engaging in discriminatory practices. The
Commission also alleged that Digital's distribution agreements in
respect of computer services were anti-competitive and affected EU
trade by limiting the customer base of Digital's distributors and
excluding certain companies, including TPMs (third party
maintenance companies) from Digital's distribution network.
In response, Digital undertook to do the
- Offer hardware maintenance services for Digital systems on a
stand alone basis;
- Implement a pricing policy for its software support service
based on a single flat fee per essential processing
This indicates that the Commission places
importance on the separate availability of the hardware and
software support services to maintain competition in these sectors.
Digital is still allowed to offer a 'packaged product' of hardware
and software services but to avoid a 'tying' accusation any
discount for this product may only reflect the actual cost savings
of providing the combined product.
Digital further undertook to:-
- Offer discounts on the basis of objective and public criteria
and to offer the same types of discount on individual services as
- Not restrict distributors from distributing software updates
and update subscription services and to select service distributors
by objective criteria.
This is to ensure that no distributor is excluded
from being an authorised distributor because it is also a TPM
offering maintenance services for Digital systems and reflects the
Commission's concerns over discrimination and predatory
The undertaking will expire on 1 January 2003.
Digital has a right after 1 January 2000 to request the Commission
to consider its modification or termination. In the meantime, it
offers a useful framework of reference on Commission policy for the
supply of after-sales services and products in competition with