Open Source and Merger Policy: Insights from the EU Oracle/Sun Decision
University of Trento
September 16, 2010
International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law, Vol. 1, 2011
In Europe, the merger between Oracle and Sun raised a series of substantial competition concerns, especially related to the acquisition by Oracle of MySQL, an open source business, and its impact on the database market. In the end, the acquisition was unconditionally cleared by the Commission. The open source nature of MySQL played a decisive role in the competition assessment of the merger conducted by the European competition authority according to the "significant impediment to effective competition" legal test. In this Article we will review the Commission's decision with the specific aim of determining to what extent the open source nature of MySQL's business model actually affected the scrutiny of Sun's acquisition by Oracle under the relevant test. In particular, it will be questioned whether Oracle's public announcement concerning its future behaviour on the database and related markets can be expected to duly address the concerns voiced by the Commission in the course of the merger proceedings. We will conclude that Judge Easterbrook's much quoted conclusion that - [t]he GPL and open-source software have nothing to fear from the antitrust laws - may possibly need some qualification.
Keywords: Merger Control, European Competition Policy, Antitrust, More Economic Approach, Open Source
Date posted: September 17, 2010 ; Last revised: September 6, 2014