Microsoft appealed an 899 million euro, or
$1.3 billion USD, antitrust fine in an EU court on Tuesday.
Microsoft, an American electronics, computing and software corporation, was
initially issued a fine of 497 million euro by the European Commission in 2004
for abusing its dominant position to
hinder competitors. But in 2008, the European Commission issued another fine
for failing to comply with the previous order in 2004, which asked Microsoft to
allow other products to work with computers running the company's software.
But Microsoft called the EU's 2008 antitrust fine "excessive
and undeserved," since regulators were asking for almost double the previous
fine. The 2008 antitrust fine totaled 899 million euro, or $1.3 billion USD.
"This case would not have arisen if the Commission had been as explicit
with respect to rates which it wanted Microsoft to charge as it had been with
all other terms of licensing proposed by Microsoft," said Jean Francois
Bellis, Microsoft's lawyer.
Despite Microsoft's stance, EU regulators claimed that Microsoft showed that it
was able to determine measures needed to comply with the 2004 order within a
short period of time after a 2007 court ruling.
In 2009, Microsoft decided to reach a settlement with EU regulators by agreeing
to let users chose their own browser when using its Windows OS.
Now, Microsoft has filed an appeal against
the EU regulators' antitrust fine. Analysts believe the General Court's
verdict, which is usually given between six months and a year after a hearing,
could either give the European Commission discretion in its enforcement, or
change how the court handles the Commission's position on high fines. Ramon
Garcia Gallardo, a partner at SJ Berwin, noted, "fine reductions in cartel
fines have been relatively small."
The Computing Technology Industry Association and the Association for
Competitive Technology favored Microsoft's position in the case while Oracle
Corp., Red Hat Inc. and IBM supported the European Commission.
"This is a case about a gambler who doubled up on a losing bet, lost
again, and now wants his money back," said Nicholas Khan, a lawyer for the