Demonstrating that its bruising battles with Microsoft have not deterred it from taking on IT companies, on 1 March 2012 the European Commission (EC) opened an investigation against U.S. software company The MathWorks (TMW). The EC is investigating whether the company has refused to provide downstream competitors with end-user software licences and accompanying interoperability information for two of its products which are used for the design of commercial control systems. The concern is that it has thereby prevented the competitors from achieving interoperability with these products. This could be an abuse of TMW’s dominance in relation to the market for the design of commercial control systems.

Separately, on 22 March 2012, the EC launched a public consultation on the issue of hardware and software interoperability (when not covered by standards) generally. This may result in legislation on the issue. This development and the TMW case (plus an ongoing investigation against Google, to name just one other example) demonstrate the EC is still focusing hard on the technology sector. The potential for EC involvement can be a useful weapon for companies in their dealings with third parties.