Microsoft seeks help in EU antitrust fight

Software giant has lobbied the White House and the US Department of Justice for help in its European legal battles

Microsoft has contacted powerful firms and the US government to seek help in its ongoing antitrust battle with the European Commission.

According to the Financial Times, Microsoft has met with officials in the White House and US Department of Justice to ask for their support in tackling the EC in overturning a number of judgements in the competition case.

The Financial Times also reports that Microsoft has sent a memo to a number of big businesses, including one pharmaceutical firm, requesting that they lobby the US government to publicly back Microsoft in its wranglings with the EC.

The paper quotes the memo as detailing members of the US administration who should be contacted by its business allies, plus a list of four "talking points". These include: "I understand that Microsoft has asked the US government to intervene directly in the trade secrets case and I wanted you to know that our company supports that request" and EC action "could adversely impact the value of trade secrets which are substantial business assets for many US companies, including mine".

Microsoft said similar intervention is common from the EC in cases conducted in the US.

The software giant said in a statement: "In recent years, the European Commission and EU member state governments have intervened in a number of competition cases and appeals in the United States. It makes sense for the US government to offer its views in a similar way under the procedures established by European courts, where the issue has broad implications for the global economy."

Microsoft has been appealing the EC case since the EC passed its landmark decision on the software maker, fining it €497m (£334m) and requiring it to offer Windows XP without a version of Media Player included.

A final decision on the matter is now expected in the spring.

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