The European Commission said Feb. 11 that it had reopened its investigation into Microsoft and Time Warner's plan to take over anti-piracy software firm ContentGuard Holdings Inc.

BRUSSELS (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The European Commission said Feb. 11 that it had reopened its investigation into Microsoft and Time Warner's plan to take over anti-piracy software firm ContentGuard Holdings Inc.

The commission originally launched a four-month inquiry into the deal last August, after a preliminary review found that it could create or boost a dominant position by Microsoft in the market for digital right management, used to protect movies, music and software from illegal copying.

But the EC -- the European Union's anti-trust authority -- stopped the clock on the probe in November as it waited for Time Warner and Microsoft to provide key data. A new deadline for the commission's final decision has been set for April 7.

The commission, however, said the probe would not cover a recent deal that saw French IT firm Thomson join the bid. Microsoft and Time Warner originally told the commission last year of their plans to each buy 50% stakes in ContentGuard, but since then Thomson has joined the bid, and now the three firms each plan 33% stakes in ContentGuard.

EC spokesman Jonathan Todd said in a statement: "The shares which were subsequently sold on to Thomson were acquired as part of the deal which is now under investigation. They would not have had the shares to sell on to Thomson were it not for the first deal."

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