updated 11/30/2005 9:23:36 AM ET 2005-11-30T14:23:36

South Korea's antitrust watchdog said Wednesday it will likely rule next week on allegations that Microsoft Corp. violated trade rules by bundling its software products with Windows.

The Fair Trade Commission began looking into the case because Daum Communications Corp., a South Korean Internet portal, filed a complaint in 2001 alleging that Microsoft engaged in unfair marketing by tying its instant messenger software to Windows.

Microsoft reached a $30 million settlement with Daum earlier this month, but the commission said its investigation would proceed even though Daum withdrew its complaint.

U.S. digital media company RealNetworks Inc. withdrew a similar complaint to the commission last month after reaching a $761 million legal settlement in the United States with Microsoft, ending all their antitrust disputes worldwide.

The commission had planned to deliver a ruling on Wednesday, but delayed it by one week, saying it needs time for a "technical verification" of what will be included in the judgment.

"The members of the whole committee will try again to reach agreement on Dec. 7 and it is highly likely that a final decision will be made on this day," said Kim Joo-hyuck, a committee spokesman, in a statement posted on the commission's Web site.

The commission can order so-called "corrective measures" such as separating the bundled software if Microsoft is found to have engaged in unfair practices in South Korea.  Fines of up to 5 percent of total sales in the country for Windows software during the period of any unfair practices can also be levied.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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