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Cisco Challenges Microsoft/Skype Deal

February 16, 2012 | Hogan Keyser
February 15 by Jeff Baumgartner via LightReading.com -- In a clash of tech titans, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is appealing the European Commission's approval of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s proposed $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype Ltd.

Cisco thinks the EC should require Microsoft to conform to standards that would let other video conferencing products -- such as, oh, maybe, Cisco's TelePresence -- work with Skype's popular platform. Messagenet, a European VoIP service provider, is joining Cisco in the appeal.

"Cisco does not oppose the merger," Marthin De Beer, SVP of Cisco's Emerging Business Group, wrote in a blog post Wednesday. Rather, Cisco wants the EC to take steps "to avoid any one company from being able to seek to control the future of video communications," he wrote.

Cisco is particularly fearful that Microsoft intends to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform and "lock-in" businesses that want to reach Skype's universe of 700 million-plus account holders, De Beer added. [Ed. Note: Openness? Standards? For a moment there this was starting to sound like a complaint from a set-top vendor trying to crack the Cisco-Motorola Mobility Inc. (NYSE: MMI) duopoly in the U.S. cable market.]

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