- Title: VARIOUS: Microsoft suffers decisive EU antitrust defeat
- Date: 18th September 2007
- Summary: (BN09) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (FILE - NOVEMBER 2006) (REUTERS) MICROSOFT FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN BILL GATES AT INNOVATION EVENT WITH FINNISH PRIME MINISTER MATTI VANHANEN TESTING THE NEW DEVICE WHICH ENABLES COMPUTER USERS TO MOVE DATA WITH THEIR HANDS
- Embargoed: 3rd October 2007 13:00
- Topics: Industry
- Reuters ID: LVA72GSK257EMI6DIKXR96FCXTAK
- Story Text: European antitrust regulators won a historic victory over Microsoft on Monday (September 17) when an European Union (EU) court upheld the European Commission's 2004 ruling that the U.S. software giant abused its market dominance.
The European Union's second-highest court dismissed Microsoft's appeal on all substantive points.
Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said the whole industry would be affected by the decision and that those working within it will have to think long and hard about its implications.
"I think the decision very clearly gives the Commission quite broad power and quite broad discretion there are many companies in our industry that have a very large market share," Smith told reporters.
Smith said he would uphold the court's decision and look to the Commission for guidance.
Rivals welcomed the court verdict as a signal that EU authorities will not allow Microsoft to pursue anti-competitive practices with impunity.
A spokesman for Microsoft opponents in the case, the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), said the ruling confirmed Microsoft had abused its near-monopoly in computer operating systems and set ground rules for the company's behaviour.
Thomas Vinje, the lawyer representing the ECIS, said: "This decision is at least as important today as it was in 2004 insofar as it establishes vital principles, it establishes rules of the road for the behaviour of this extraordinarily powerful company in critical markets. And we can hope that Microsoft will comport its behaviour to those principles and now the commission has the tools it needs to address that conduct if Microsoft continues to engage with it."
The verdict opens the way for Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes to take additional action against Microsoft.
Speaking in Brussels, Kroes said the ruling had one message: dominant companies must allow for fair competition, especially within high-tech industries.
"Most importantly it sends a clear signal that super dominant companies cannot abuse their positions to hurt consumers and dampen innovation by excluding competitors in related markets," Kroes said.
Kroes also said Brussels would act if necessary and show zero tolerance against non compliance. "I will not tolerate continued non compliance," Kroes said.
The EU executive, which has wide-ranging antitrust and merger control powers, found in 2004 that Microsoft had used its 95 percent share of the market in personal computer operating systems to elbow aside and damage smaller rivals.
The court upheld a record 497 million euro (689.9 million U.S. dollar) fine imposed on Microsoft as part of the original decision.
The Commission later fined Microsoft an additional 280.5 million euros (389 million U.S. dollars), saying it had failed to comply with its decision on interoperability.
The EU regulator is considering a further fine for non-compliance.
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