EU opens unofficial DVD format investigation

The European Commission opens an unofficial antitrust investigation into competing DVD formats.

The European Commission has launched an unofficial antitrust probe into the two emerging DVD formats championed by Toshiba and Sony, a spokesman said Thursday.

HD DVD, created by Toshiba, and Blu-ray, developed by Sony, are fighting for dominance of next-generation audiovisual formats. The Commission suspects that the licensing terms the companies are applying breach European competition rules.

"We sent a letter earlier this month to the makers of HD DVD and Blu-ray to request information about licensing," said the spokesman who asked not to be named.

He declined to comment on which companies received the letter, but Sony confirmed it had and that it was cooperating with the regulators. "There are no indications of any complaint, nor of any antitrust concerns on the part of the Commission or anyone else," it said in a statement.

Toshiba was not immediately available to comment.

Once the Commission's antitrust department has examined the replies to its letter it will decide whether to open a full-blown antitrust probe or drop the matter, the spokesman said.