Microsoft Seeks Stay of European Commission Antitrust Penalty

Microsoft and the European Commission faced off in open court on Thursday for the first time in their five-year legal battle over antitrust concerns.

The parties met in the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, where Microsoft is seeking a stay of the commission's antitrust penalties against Microsoft until the European Union's courts rule on Microsoft's appeal. The appeal process could take several years.

In March, the commission, which is the EU's enforcement arm, ordered Microsoft to pay a record fine of about $610 million, to offer a version of Windows without the Windows Media Player and to disclose to competitors the interfaces required to communicate with Windows. The March announcement was the culmination of a lengthy investigation by the commission and came despite a last-minute settlement push by Microsoft that included a personal visit by Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer.

On Thursday, the first day of an expected two-day proceeding, Microsoft attacked the interoperability requirements of the commission's decision. The company's attorneys held up Linux to support an argument that an immediate implementation of the commission's order wasn't necessary to protect competition.

"Without the protocols, a new product has been able to come from nothing and get 1/6 of the market in such a few years," The Associated Press quoted Microsoft attorney Ian Forrester as saying.

"The insights revealed will be revealed forever, regardless of contractual safeguards," Ian Forrester told the court. "The bell once rung cannot be un-rung."

In a statement after the proceedings, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith claimed Microsoft exposed weaknesses in the commission's case on interoperability. Smith said the discussion on Friday would turn to the Windows Media Player issue.

Once the hearings are over, a ruling is not expected for a month or two. The Court of First Instance is the EU's second highest court. Once the Court of First Instance has ruled, the stay issue can be appealed to the president of the EU's high court, the European Court of Justice.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.


  • Microsoft Ups Its Windows 10 App Compatibility Assurances

    Microsoft gave assurances this week that organizations adopting Windows 10 likely won't face application compatibility issues.

  • SharePoint Online Users To Get 'Modern' UI Push in April

    Microsoft plans to alter some of the tenant-level blocking capabilities that may have been set up by organizations and deliver its so-called "modern" user interface (UI) to Lists and Libraries for SharePoint Online users, starting in April.

  • How To Use PowerShell Splatting

    Despite its weird name, splatting can be a really handy technique if you create a lot of PowerShell scripts.

  • New Microsoft Customer Agreement for Buying Azure Services To Start in March

    Microsoft will have a new approach for organizations buying Azure services called the "Microsoft Customer Agreement," which will be available for some customers starting as early as this March.

comments powered by Disqus
Most   Popular

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.