EU court upholds decision against Microsoft

The EU's Court of First Instance rejected Microsoft's appeal from a European Commission ruling that the company engaged in anticompetitive behavior. The decision upholds the Commission's ability to regulate antitrust matters, News.

The EU's Court of First Instance rejected Microsoft's appeal from a European Commission ruling that the company engaged in anticompetitive behavior. The decision upholds the Commission's ability to regulate antitrust matters, News.com reports, as well as a $613 million fine.

"The court ruling is...welcome for its confirmation of the Commission's decision and its underlying policy, but nevertheless, it is bittersweet," Neelie Kroes, the Commission's Competition Commissioner, said during a press conference Monday. "Bittersweet because the court has confirmed the Commission's view that consumers are suffering at the hands of Microsoft."

Kroes said that Europe should see a significant market share drop if Microsoft were to truly comply with the EC's order.

"A market share less than 95 percent is a way to measure the success (of the order)," she added. A spokesman for Kroes later clarified that a fall in market share would be a logical consequence of fairer competition.

Continuing a recent pattern of backing Microsoft, the Department of Justice on Monday was critical of the Commission's decision.

"We are...concerned that the standard applied to unilateral conduct by the (Court of First Instance), rather than helping consumers, may have the unfortunate consequence of harming consumers by chilling innovation and discouraging competition. In the United States, the antitrust laws are enforced to protect consumers by protecting competition, not competitors," Thomas O. Barnett, assistant attorney general for the department's antitrust division, said in the statement.

Microsoft has not indicated whether it will pursue an appeal of Monday's verdict to the European Court of Justice, the highest court in Europe.

Linux distributor Red Hat also voiced its support for the court's decision.

"In our business, interoperability information is critically important and cannot simply be withheld to exclude all competition…we were pleased with the overall decision and look forward to examining the decision in greater detail," Matthew Szulik, Red Hat chief executive, said in a statement.

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