EU court poised for Microsoft antitrust fine ruling

Summary:Microsoft will hear in a month's time whether the European Commission fined the company excessively for failing to comply with an earlier antitrust fine.

Europe's second-highest court will rule in just over a month's time on whether a fine imposed by the European antitrust regulators on Microsoft was fair.

The European General Court, based in Luxembourg, will rule on the decision on June 27 on a case where Microsoft was fined €899 million ($1.1bn) in 2008.

Microsoft's penalty was a record fine for the time, only to be outdone by Intel who was fined €1.06 billion ($1.4bn) shortly afterward, who coincidentally is going through the same motions almost word for word.

The case goes back to 2004 when Microsoft charged unreasonable prices for access to "interface documents for work group servers".

Microsoft called the fine "excessive" after it was fined due to a failure to comply with the original March 2004 antitrust decision. It was originally fined $1.2 billion for failing to provide its competitors access to its compatibility protocols at a reasonable rate.

It was the first time in 50 years of European competition policy that the Commission had to impose a fine for a company for failing to comply with an antitrust decision.

Microsoft slammed the decision to impose a second, larger fine for failing to pay the original fine. It argued that it wasn't given enough time to appeal, and that it still didn't know how much a reasonable rate it was expected to charge in the first place.

It was though Microsoft was given a punishment without being told exactly how to prevent such actions in the future.

The Redmond-based software giant turned heads this month when it said it would only allow Internet Explorer 10 in the desktop mode of its tablet version of Windows 8, named Windows RT. Both Mozilla and Google publicly accused Microsoft of abusing its dominant position in the browser market, with what could spin into another European antitrust investigation.

EU regulators said it would "keep an eye" on Microsoft, though the Commission isn't entirely sure whether it breaks an existing settlement agreement or not.

U.S. regulators will also decide on whether to probe Microsoft in a full antitrust investigation in the coming weeks.

Image source: Flickr.

Related:

Topics: EU

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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