The Japanese government's Fair Trade Commission searched the offices of several Japanese record companies today (Aug. 26) on suspicion of violating antitrust laws. The commission was following-up on a

The Japanese government's Fair Trade Commission searched the offices of several Japanese record companies today (Aug. 26) on suspicion of violating antitrust laws. The commission was following-up on allegations that the labels were refusing to allow other companies to use their repertoire for mobile-phone ring tune services.

Among the companies whose offices were raided were the local affiliates of the five major international labels as well as leading local labels such as Avex and Victor Entertainment.

Also searched were the offices of Label Mobile, a Tokyo-based ring tones/tunes provider which is jointly owned by Avex subsidiary Avex Network, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), Victor Entertainment, Toshiba-EMI and Universal Music K.K.

Ring tunes from its parent companies and 12 other Japanese labels are distributed through Label Mobile. Although there are about 100 ring tune distribution companies in Japan, Label Mobile has an estimated 80% share of the ¥10 billion ($90.8 million) Japanese ring tune market.

At press time it was unclear whether any charges would be laid in connection with the raids.