Microsoft documents EC antitrust 'mishandling'

The European Commission's conduct fleshes out concerns that "raise serious questions about the propriety of seeking to impose huge fines in this case," claims Microsoft in documents posted online.

Microsoft last week published documents that include detailed claims about how the European Commission has allegedly mishandled its antitrust case against the software giant.

The documents include Microsoft's formal response to the Commission and two reports into Microsoft's technical documentation, which it claims were written by independent experts.

This comes just a week after Microsoft filed a response to the EC that explained why it believes it has complied with the antitrust ruling in 2004. At the time, the company was unwilling to reveal the full documents, although it published a summary which included a criticism of the way the EC has handled the process. The EC confirmed last week that it had received Microsoft's submission, but questioned the accuracy of some of Microsoft's claims.

In the response document published on Friday, Microsoft again attacked the EC over the way it has handled the antitrust case.

"In contrast with Microsoft's extensive efforts to meet its strong commitment to compliance, the Commission's conduct raises a number of important concerns that will have far-reaching effects in future cases and that raise serious questions about the propriety of seeking to impose huge fines in this case," said Microsoft in the document.

It also accused the EC of changing its mind about its demands, and not putting its request in writing to avoid it impacting the Court of First Instance. Microsoft is currently pursuing two cases against the EC related to the antitrust case--one is appealing against the original ruling, and one is appealing against the EC's request that server protocol information can be used in open source projects, which Microsoft claims violates its intellectual-property rights.

"The Commission continually changed its interpretation of what technical documentation was required by the vague language in the decision, and refused to put its new interpretations in writing despite repeated requests from Microsoft, out of concern that this new interpretation would come to the attention of the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg," states the document.

The EC is also accused of denying Microsoft access to communications between the Commission and its monitoring trustee, as well as the Commission and other consultants.

"The Commission has denied Microsoft’s fundamental right of defence by prohibiting fair and full access to the file underlying the Statement of Objections, including correspondence between the Commission and the outside experts upon whose evidence the Commission relies. In defiance of its own recent declaration of increased transparency, the Commission declares these experts to be "internal" for the purpose of shielding its communications with them, but "external" for purposes of relying on their reports," claimed Microsoft.

The European Commission was not available for comment at the time of writing. Last week, the Free Software Foundation said that Microsoft's attack on the EC was outrageous.