The US Department of Justice has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against MathWorks and Wind River Systems to stop the companies from illegally ‘allocating’ the markets for software used to design ‘dynamic control systems’.
The Department said that an agreement between the two companies has eliminated important competition that has, in the past, driven significant technical improvements and price reductions for consumers.
Dynamic control system design software enables engineers to develop the computerised control systems of sophisticated devices, such as anti-lock brake systems for automobiles, guidance and navigation control systems for unmanned spacecraft, and flight control systems for aircraft. By automating the steps of modelling, analysing, simulating, testing, and generating software code for these types of control systems, engineers can develop them in a shorter time at less cost. MathWorks’ dynamic control system software in question is the Simulink product group. Wind River’s competing product is MATRIXx.
According to the complaint, in February 2001, MathWorks and Wind River, which were head-to-head competitors for the development and sale of dynamic control system design software tools, entered into an agreement that ended competition between the two firms. The agreement gave MathWorks the exclusive right to sell Wind River’s MATRIXx products and required Wind River to stop its own development and marketing.
The Department’s lawsuit alleges that the agreement with Wind River gave MathWorks control over the prices, marketing, support, and future development of the Wind River dynamic control system design tools.
MathWorks has announced its intention to undertake no further development of the Wind River MATRIXx products. For more than 10 years before the agreement, MATRIXx and the Simulink products competed on the basis of price, customer support and improved features.