Groups urge EU to block Oracle's plan to buy Sun

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU regulators should block Oracle Corp's ORCL.O plan to buy open source database MySQL via its takeover of Sun Microsystems Inc as Oracle may hinder MySQL's development, two technology and consumer groups said.

The European Commission, which polices competition in the 27-country European Union, is probing world No. 2 software maker Oracle's $7 billion takeover of Sun JAVA.O, with a decision expected by November 19 on whether to approve the deal.

The EU executive said last month it was concerned the acquisition could hinder competition in the database market and it wanted to make sure alternatives would continue to be available to users.

In a letter to Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes dated October 19, digital civil liberties organization Open Rights Group, Knowledge Ecology International and software developer Richard Stallman said they shared the same concerns.

“If Oracle is allowed to acquire MySQL, it will predictably limit the development of the functionality and performance of the MySQL software platform, leading to profound harm to those who use MySQL software to power applications,” they wrote. They said Oracle was likely to protect its core product, the Oracle proprietary database, from losing market share and shrinking licensing fees at the expense of MySQL.

Founded by U.S. consumer activist Ralph Nader, Knowledge Ecology International lobbies for free software in government, open access for the Internet and social issues. Stallman is the creator of GNU, a widely used free operating system.

MySQL creator Michael Widenius urged Oracle on Monday to commit to selling MySQL in order to resolve antitrust concerns.

MySQL, which competes mainly against Microsoft Corp's MSFT.O SQL Server, is used to run websites operated by companies including Google GOOG.O, Facebook and AMZN.O. Its main customers are small and mid-sized businesses.

Analysts said the regulatory delay could hurt Sun, the No. 4 maker of computer servers, as rivals Hewlett-Packard Co HPQ.N and IBM IBM.N offer incentives to woo Sun customers.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee