Events in the EU antitrust trial against Microsoft took a serious turn this week following reports that the head of one the main witnesses against the software giant personally received around £5.25m as a result of his organisation pulling out of the action.
The report in the Financial Times indicated that Ed Black, head of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), received almost half the $19.75m paid to his company by Microsoft following the CCIA's decision to withdraw its support for the European Commission's six-year trial.
Black and his organisation were regarded as some of the most vociferous anti-Microsoft campaigners in the industry. Back in March 1999 during the US antitrust trial, Black argued for both a break-up of Microsoft along product lines and the establishment of several rival companies in similar businesses, with the CCIA releasing its own whitepaper detailing the remedies proposed in detail.
However, serious questions are now being asked about the CCIA and the validity of an EU antitrust system which can be so easily subverted. Novell also decided to drop out of the case after reaching a similar "settlement" with Microsoft – leaving RealNetworks the only major player left in the action.
RealNetworks have refused to comment on the payments to the CCIA and Black. Earlier this week Dave Stewart, deputy general counsel for RealNetworks, told Dow Jones we "remain resolved to support the decision and protect consumers".
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