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CAD Software Industry Faces Preliminary EU Antitrust Probe

European Union antitrust regulators said they are reviewing the practices of producers of computer-aided design software.

Officials have opened an investigation into the market “which is in the very preliminary stages,” Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the European Commission in Brussels, said in an e-mail today.

“We are aware that the commission is reviewing the CAD industry and we’ll certainly provide anything the commission requests,” Greg Eden, a spokesman for Autodesk Inc., based in San Rafael, California, said by phone yesterday in response to questions from Bloomberg News.

Autodesk, the developer of software used in bridge design and the special effects in the movie “Avatar,” generated revenue of $1.95 billion in the year ended Jan. 31.

Competition among technology companies is “particularly important because the dynamism in this industry is an asset for the whole economy,” the EU’s antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, said in November.

Requests for information are an initial step in EU antitrust investigations that do not always lead to a formal probe, which can eventually result in fines for companies accused of breaking competition rules.

The EU’s executive last year started investigating International Business Machines Corp. and Google Inc. after receiving complaints from smaller rivals.

Investigations under former EU antitrust commissioner Neelie Kroes resulted in 1.68 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in fines against Microsoft Corp. and a record 1.06 billion-euro penalty against Intel Corp.

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