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Software giant balks at penalties

The European Union appears set to keep its hard-line stance against Microsoft’s allegedly anticompetitive tactics, and it is insisting on imposing a €899 million ($1.36 billion USD) fine on the company to keep its future actions in line.

Microsoft’s lawyers disagree, however, and entered a variety of arguments last May that the fine is too high, and was entered based upon “manifest errors” in the EU’s process. With copies of the arguments released publicly earlier this week (PDF), its demands to annul the fine are now available for perusal worldwide:

  • The EU “erred” in its decision to subject Microsoft to regular, periodic fines while the company released copies of its interoperability specifications, due to the fact that Microsoft’s pricing for the documentations was not in line with the EU’s definition of “reasonable,” – the EU never explicitly stated what it considered a “reasonable” price to be.
  • Further, licensing rates for information on its proprietary protocols – despite not passing the EU’s benchmark of reasonability – were more than 30 percent lower what industry experts PriceWaterhouseCoopers determined to be a fair price for “comparable technology.” (Ars Technica questioned this finding early last year, noting that in many cases ‘comparable technology’ was open source, and therefore free.)
  • Microsoft should not have been subjected to a “heightened patentability test,” where the innovation of its trade secrets was placed under scrutiny in order for the EU to decide whether or not Microsoft should have charged royalties for the use of its trade secrets.
  • The EU based some its assessment reports on documents obtained that courts later determined to be “unlawful.”
  • Microsoft was denied its “right” to be heard due to the EU’s failing to give Microsoft the opportunity to speak up after the period for which it was fined, preventing the company from “commenting on all relevant aspects of the case.”
  • And, simply, the fines imposed are “excessive and disproportionate,” particularly due to the fact that the EU chose to challenge its licensing practices.

Additionally, Microsoft previously appealed the fine to Europe’s Court of First Instance last May – however little has developed in the appeal since its filing.

The company’s trouble began in 2004 when the EU demanded Microsoft provide competitors the ability to connect to software running under its Windows platform (applications like Exchange and Active Directory). Third-party attempts to connect to Microsoft technologies have, typically, been written by reverse engineering the company’s communications protocols.



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RE: Fight and win
By purefat on 7/10/2008 8:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Part of the reason people want to come to the US from Eurape is that US taxes are much lower.


The only reason I am really anxious to come to the US is the extremely weak dollar. It's really a free shopping spree.

quote:
The EU are just a bunch of socialists jealous that they can't tax Microsoft any more than they already collect for sales tax


I am unhappy to inform you that the vast majority of the governments the EU states, the people with the real power, belong to the right-radical right wing. Cyprus is the only EU state with communist goverment, while social democrats ( which are extremely far from communism) govern Spain and take part in the governing coalition with the Christian Democrats in Germany. As far as I know nearly all belong to the right wing.
In addition to this, in some EU states all communist symbols are banned.
As you can conclude the EU/EC are not consisted of jealous socialists. In fact Europe is a political midget, nearly always obedient to the US. So if MS would like to get rid of all these fines, it should focus to Washington rather than Brussels

P.S. I am not against free market, but at least in my country untill now free market = unlawful, full of cartels, expensive market


"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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