updated 2/26/2004 7:56:30 AM ET 2004-02-26T12:56:30

Officials from Japan's fair trade watchdog raided the Japanese unit of software giant Microsoft Corp. on Thursday on suspicion of anti-monopoly law violations, the authorities said.

A spokeswoman at Microsoft Japan confirmed that the Fair Trade Commission inspected the Tokyo headquarters office but denied any wrongdoing. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

A commission official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said Microsoft Japan is suspected of attaching improper restrictive conditions when signing software deals with Japanese personal computer manufacturers, such as requiring that Japanese companies allow infringement of their patents.

The official refused to elaborate. Japanese fair trade officials generally do not comment on ongoing investigations.

The Microsoft spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the company is cooperating with the investigation, which involves questions about wording on copyright and patents in licensing agreements with Japanese manufacturers.

She said the company sees nothing inappropriate about the licensing agreements.

In the United States, a spokeswoman with Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. did not immediately return a call late Wednesday.

Microsoft's Windows operating system software dominates computers sold and made in Japan as in other parts of the world.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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