Is the European Commission investigating Autodesk?

Reading between the lines, it is clear somebody in Brussels thinks it is time to take a close look at Autodesk’s near-monopoly on 2D design with AutoCAD.

European market intelligence agency MLex is reporting today that European Commission regulators are looking into the competitive market for “specialist design software” and that Autodesk is “aware that the commission is reviewing the CAD industry.”

An unnamed Autodesk representative is quoted in the MLex report as saying, “We have not received a visit from the commission. We have and will continue to provide anything the commission has requested in this matter.”

Because of the near-monopoly status of AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT in the market for 2D design software, Autodesk occasionally comes under regulatory scrutiny. The last significant regulatory event for Autodesk was 1997, when the US Federal Trade Commission forced Autodesk to divest of some assets acquired when it bought competitor Softdesk, including the code for a competitor 2D CAD product. The ruling in that case created what is known today as the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium, which develops the IntelliCAD platform for 2D design software compatible with the AutoCAD DWG file format. A second consortium with interest in the DWG format is the Open Design Alliance, started with technology spun off by Microsoft after it acquired Visio Corporation. Autodesk and the ODA have been in court more than once over the years.

MLex says the European Commission has no comment on their report.

What we think

Reading between the lines, is is clear somebody in Brussels thinks it is time to take a close look at Autodesk and the near monopoly it enjoys due to the continued success of AutoCAD. Regulators might have been nudged into action by any one of a number of European or global competitors. It is hardly fair to suggest any of them might be directly or indirectly involved; sometimes regulators have their own ideas about these things.