BRUSSELS (AP) - A European court on Wednesday upheld most of a massive fine levied against Microsoft by the European Commission’s competition watchdog, closing a case against the software giant that began in 1998.
In an appeals ruling, the General Court of the European Union rejected Microsoft Corp.’s request to dismiss the fine levied in 2008, but did trim it by (EURO)39 million to (EURO)860 million ($1.1 billion). Counting two earlier fines, the case has wound up costing Microsoft a grand total of (EURO)1.64 billion.
That’s the most ever resulting from a single antitrust case in Europe, though in 2009 Intel Corp. was hit with the largest single fine, (EURO)1.09 billion.
The (EURO)860 million fine is a “penalty for noncompliance” with the watchdog’s 2004 order for Microsoft to make computer programming code available that would allow competitors’ products to interface properly with Microsoft’s server software.
The court upheld that finding, but said Microsoft deserved a small break because of a letter the Commission sent in 2005 saying the company didn’t have to freely distribute code that wasn’t its own and was freely available elsewhere. That letter gave Microsoft some room to think it was okay to continue acting the way it had until 2004, and should have been “taken into account in determining the gravity of the conduct found to be unlawful,” the written decision said.
“A range of innovative products that would otherwise not have seen the light of day were introduced on the market,” thanks to the Commission, he said.
Microsoft was less enthusiastic.
Microsoft was initially fined (EURO)497 million along with the 2004 order, then it was penalized another (EURO)280.5 million for noncompliance in 2006, and then another (EURO)899 million in 2008.
The company has already booked provisions for all the fines and penalties and after the ruling it has no active outstanding quarrels with European regulators.
Most notably in the 2009 deal, Microsoft ended an investigation into allegedly abusive practices for bundling its Internet Explorer web browser along with its operating systems. Microsoft agreed to instead offer customers a range of browsers to choose from.View Entire Story
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A carefully guided tour through the confusing world of modern bookselling and publishing.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall