September 17, 2007

EU court upholds Microsoft anti-trust decision

Author: Mayank Sharma

A European Union court on Monday dismissed Microsoft's appeal against the 2004 ruling which found the company had abused its dominant market position to score over rivals. Microsoft's lawyers failed to impress the European Court of First Instance, which not only dismissed the case but also rejected the appeal against the €497 million ($690 million) fine imposed on the company. Update: Red Hat has issued a statement about the Commission's ruling.

In 2004, the European Commission (EC) ruled against Microsoft, terming its policy of including its own Media Player software as part of the Windows operating system and refusing to provide the technical information that rivals would need to offer their product instead, as illegal. Citing a change in the competitive landscape of media players, Microsoft's lawyers argued that products like Apple's iTunes and others are all making this field more competitive than it was in 2004.

A joint press release by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and the SAMBA project welcomes the court's latest decision. "Through tactics that successfully derailed antitrust processes in other parts of the world, including the United States, Microsoft has managed to postpone this day for almost a decade. But thanks to the perseverance and excellent work of the European Commission, these tactics have now failed in Europe," says Georg Greve, president of FSFE.

The decision comes close on the heels of Microsoft's failed attempt to fast-track ISO approval for its Office Open XML format. To make matters worse for Microsoft, major competitors like IBM and Sun are grouping together behind the Open Document Format, which was approved as an ISO standard last year.

According to the ruling, Microsoft can still file an appeal before the EC's Court of Justice within two months.

Red Hat's statement (update):

RALEIGH, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the following statement in regard to the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg's decision in the matter of the European Commission vs. Microsoft:

ââ¬ÅToday's decision by the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg in the Microsoft matter is great news for innovation and consumer choice, both in Europe and around the world. The Court has confirmed that competition law prevents a monopolist from simply using its control of the market to lock in customers and stifle new competitors,ââ¬Â said Matthew Szulik, Chairman and CEO of Red Hat. ââ¬ÅIn our business, interoperability information is critically important and cannot simply be withheld to exclude all competition. Given Red Hat's firm belief that competition, not questionable patent and trade secret claims, drives innovation and creates greater consumer value, we were pleased with the overall decision and look forward to examining the decision in greater detail. Red Hat would like to congratulate the European Commission, and particularly Commissioner Neelie Kroes and her services, for their persistence and courage in bringing this matter to a successful result.ââ¬Â


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