IBM faces huge antitrust probe

Antitrust and International Trade Commission probes in the U.S. tend to focus on tech companies such as Microsoft (MSFT), Qualcomm (QCOM) and IBM (IBM), and now the Justice Department is making another visit to IBM to investigate whether it has employed monopolistic practices in its mainframe business. IBM is said to have invented the mainframe; the company launched its System 360 line in 1965 and many of today's most powerful computers are decedents of that product.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, which is operated primarily by IBM competitors, received investigative requests from the Justice Department recently -- most probably asking for data about IBM's practices in the mainframe industry. As The Wall Street Journal points out, "Antitrust lawsuits often hinge on how a judge construes the relevant market." The paper goes on to say that servers may be considered direct competitors to mainframes, which muddies the waters.