Japanese anti-monopoly investigators met with Microsoft lawyers yesterday to investigate claims the software company has infringed against Japan's Antimonopoly Act.

Investigators from the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) charged in mid-July that certain provisions in license agreements between Microsoft and Japanese PC vendors violate the Antimonopoly Act - a charge Microsoft officially rejected later that month. The provisions in question restrict possible legal action should licensees believe Microsoft is infringing on their patents and thus violate Section 19 of the act, according to the JFTC.

The one-hour hearing saw investigators from the JFTC list the charges they have filed against Microsoft and why they believe the company broke Japanese law, said Takujiro Kono, deputy director of the JFTC's First Special Investigation Division.

The next hearing will take place on December 20, when Microsoft is expected to request clarification on several points raised Monday, Kono said.

"Today the Microsoft team said that the investigator's explanation on some things was unclear," Kono said. The JFTC will likely offer a fuller explanation on the issues in question at a third hearing, the date of which will be decided when the parties next meet, he said.

Microsoft declined to comment on the hearing.

Microsoft dropped the provisions in question from new licenses on February 21 this year as a result of feedback from PC makers, but kept them in place on existing licenses, the software maker said earlier this year. Five days after they were dropped, the company's Tokyo headquarters was raided by the JFTC when it launched its investigation.