EU Court to Rule on Microsoft Antitrust Fine Ultimate Edition™

Published on May 24, 2012
by John Paczkowski

June 27.

That’s the day Microsoft will learn whether anything has come of its challenge to the $1.14 billion penalty the European Union slapped it with eight years ago for failing to comply with its antitrust decision.

In just over a month’s time, the EU’s General Court will rule on Microsoft’s appeal of the fine, the culmination of a long, contentious legal battle over interoperability. Issued after it was determined that Microsoft had failed to comply with a 2004 antitrust judgment that required the company to charge fair and reasonable rates for its interoperability protocols, the $1.14 billion fine was the largest ever imposed by the EU against a single company, and the very first to be meted out for noncompliance with an EU court order.

It was also, in Microsoft’s opinion, “unnecessary, unlawful and totally disproportionate.”

“This case would not have arisen if the commission had been as explicit with respect to rates which it wanted Microsoft to charge as it had been with all other terms of licensing proposed by Microsoft,” Microsoft’s attorney Jean-François Bellis told the EU General Court at the time the company filed its appeal. “How can the Commission fine Microsoft for failing to apply reasonable rates from June 2006 to October 2007 when the final parameters were only determined on October 22, 2007?”

In short, Microsoft says it failed to comply with the order because EU regulators didn’t give it the guidance it needed to do so. Interesting argument, but will it carry any weight with the EU General Court?

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