Even though the U.S. approved Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems on Aug. 20 with no reservation, we learned on Friday that the European Union has launched a full investigation into the transaction. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said the European Commission needs to consider how the competitiveness of the database market in Europe will be affected if the largest commercial database vendor "proposes to take over" the company that owns the most popular open source database.
Observers have suggested that the investigation increases the risk that Sun will have to divest MySQL to make the deal work. The 451 Group's Matt Aslett says, though, that one way Oracle might address the EU's concerns without selling MySQL would be to donate its code and copyright to an independent foundation.
Jaspersoft CEO Brian Gentile also brings up a good point. In an e-mail on Friday, he said:
I'm not surprised to see the EU opening an investigation on the Oracle-Sun acquisition. The EU broadly considers overall customer adoption of a software product as opposed to only revenue and market share, which is a more appropriate measure for open source software and its penetration. Remember that the matter at-hand is one of copyright ownership, because the value of MySQL can be meaningfully extended under the right stewardship or intentionally squandered under the wrong ownership.
Whether Oracle manages to keep MySQL by donating the code to an independent foundation as Aslett suggests, or by other means, Gentile says "some reasonable structure will be found" so that it can.