ECJ decided Microsoft must pay a 860 million Euro fine

By EDRi · July 4, 2012

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Deutsch: [EuGH verurteilt Microsoft zu 860 Millionen Euro Strafe |]

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rejected Microsoft’s appeal
against the European Commission’s decision of 2008 to fine the company
for not having shared interoperability information to its competitors,
in a long case first brought by the European Commission’s competition
watchdog in 1998.

A record fine of 899 million Euro was given by the European
Commission in 2008, which decided that, by the end of 2007, Microsoft
had not fulfilled its obligations under the “Reasonable And Non
Discriminatory (RAND)” conditions which had been imposed to the company.
“The General Court essentially upholds the commission’s decision
imposing a periodic penalty payment on Microsoft for failing to allow
its competitors access to interoperability information on reasonable
terms,” was the court statement.

Microsoft had refused to reveal their changes in the public protocols
under the excuse of patents. The company claimed that, as the
information contained in the release was covered by patents and
therefore innovative, the company was in its right to charge its
competitors for access to this information. The court ruled that
Microsoft’s argument was wrong as there was no need for a license.

Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and the Samba Team, which has
also intervened in the case, denied that the information provided by
Microsoft was innovative. “Microsoft in practice continued to refuse
Free Software developers all access to the interoperability information,
which was not something that the letter recognised it could legitimately
do,” was the court’s decision.

“We have successfully asserted the rights of Free Software developers
like the Samba Team to access interoperability information, but
Microsoft refused our legitimate demands until the very end. Today’s
decision establishes that we were right once again. Receiving the
interoperability information was our right, not a concession by
Microsoft”, said Carlo Piana, General Counsel for FSFE.

The court however reduced the fine from 899 million Euro to 860
million Euro because, in 2005, the European Commission accepted in a
letter that Microsoft could restrict the distribution of open source
products until the Court’s judgement in September 2007. As FSFE notices,
large companies such as Microsoft, Apple or Google are still trying to
keep the market under control, by abusing patents in order to limit the
sales of products and therefore, preserve their market shares.

Joaquin Almunia, the EC’s competition commissioner, said in February
2012 that the Commission would “continue to keep a close eye on the
behaviour of all market players in the sector, particularly the
increasingly strategic use of patents.”

Press Release – General Court of the European Union no.89/12 (27.06.2012)

Record fine against Microsoft upheld by European Court of Justice

Microsoft loses appeal against EU antitrust smackdown – Court upholds
fine, but knocks it down to €860m (27.06.2012)

Microsoft loses EU antitrust fine appeal (27.06.2012)

EDRi-gram: Microsoft appeals the EC fine but faces even more complaints