EU court to decide on Microsoft appeal

By EDRi · December 2, 2004

The EU’s Court of First Instance will decide between 18 and 20 December whether to suspend the Commission’s sanctions against Microsoft. In March 2004 Microsoft got a record fine of 497 million euro after a five-year investigation by the Competition Commissioner into Microsoft’s business practice. The Commission also ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without a bundled media player and to share more technical information with server rivals. Microsoft paid the fine but the cash is being kept in an escrow account until Microsoft’s appeal has been settled.

According to the Commission’s March 2004 ruling Microsoft’s illegal conduct has enabled it to acquire a dominant position in the market for work group server operating systems and has significantly weakened competition on the media player market. The dominant position has grave consequences for consumers: “The ongoing abuses act as a brake on innovation and harm the competitive process and consumers, who ultimately end up with less choice and facing higher prices”.

The appeal case has been complicated by the recent withdrawal from the legal proceedings of two main Microsoft opponents, Novell and a US-based trade group called the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA). These two groups reached settlements with Microsoft earlier this month to withdraw from the case. Microsoft paid Novell 536 million dollars to remove its complaints against it. A smaller amount was also paid to CCIA. CCIA-member Nokia has left the association because of the settlement which it calls ‘inappropriate’.

Microsoft is trying since April to get approval from the European Commission to acquire the US-based Digital Rights Management technology company ContentGuard. In August, the European Commission said that the purchase “would be liable to create or strengthen Microsoft’s dominant position on the market for D.R.M. solutions” and that the concentration “raises serious doubts” that it is in the public’s interest.

Microsoft won’t try to bar evidence (25.11.2004)

Crucial Microsoft decision set for mid-December (25.11.2004)

Europe Stalls ContentGuard Deal (29.11.2004)

Nokia exits industry group after Microsoft payment (30.11.2004)

Microsoft gets record-breaking fine (24.03.2004)