On January 21, 2009 the EC announced that it had cleared Oracle Corporation’s proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Oracle is a US database and application software company. Sun is a US company that supports the open source data base MySQL, as well as network infrastructure products and services. The EC’s investigation, which was initiated in September 2009, focused on the proposed acquisition’s effect on the database market, access to Java intellectual property rights, and the markets for middleware and the “IT stack.”

Three proprietary database vendors – Oracle, IBM and Microsoft – possess 85 percent of the market in terms of revenue, with Oracle being the largest provider. The acquisition of Sun would provide Oracle with control over MySQL, which is the world’s leading open source database. Oracle and MySQL compete in certain parts of the database market. However, the EC found that they are not close competitors in other portions of the market (e.g., high-end). Furthermore, there is another open source database, PostgreSQL, that the EC believes will provide a sufficient alterative to MySQL and could reasonably replace MySQL’s role as a competitor in the database market.

With respect to Java IP rights, the EC found that Oracle would have no incentive to restrict its competitors’ access to such rights because it would jeopardize gains achieved from broad adoption of the Java platform. Furthermore, the EC determined that the merged entities resulting market shares in the middleware and IT stack markets did not raise competition concerns, especially given prevailing competition in these markets.