Open-source body berates apathy over Microsoft antitrust case

It is one of the few organizations--mainly free software advocates--that are helping the European Commission, says the president of Free Software Foundation Europe.
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor on

Georg Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), criticized the IT industry on Thursday for not doing enough to support the European Commission in its antitrust case against Microsoft.

Greve said that despite the importance of the antitrust case in establishing the bounds of acceptable behaviour in the IT industry, the FSFE has been one of the few organizations that has helped the Commission.

"[The] FSFE has been working on this case for many years, from the original investigation, over the 2004 decision, to the European Court case where it is now one of two remaining third parties on the side of the European Commission," wrote Greve, in his blog.

He added: "I only hope that more companies will help us defending their interests in this--to this date, FSFE has received virtually no support for this case from the industry. Consequently, all the credit belongs to the free software community, including in particular the Fellows of the FSFE."

A FSFE spokesman said on Thursday that there are, in fact, four third parties supporting the EC in the court case--the FSFE, the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), VideoBanner, and the Software & Information Industry Association, but added that the latter two have "given very limited contributions".

On Thursday, ECIS filed a new complaint against Microsoft with the EC claiming that Microsoft's refusal to use the OpenDocument standard or release details of its .doc, .xls and .ppt file formats was anticompetitive. It also claimed that Microsoft was trying to create an environment where Web-based applications work only with computers and servers running Windows, according to the Financial Times.

Greve applauded ECIS' latest filing, but pointed out that this may seem inconsistent as Microsoft has already reached individual settlements with a ECIS members such as RealNetworks and Sun.

"You may notice that ECIS contains several of the companies that lost its interest in the case after reaching individual agreements and monetary settlements with Microsoft directly, so this may seem contradictory, but indeed the ECIS complaint builds on the case and goes beyond it," said Greve.

An EC spokeswoman told ZDNet UK on Thursday that it had received ECIS' complaint and will "look at it carefully". "We only received it yesterday so there is no other response at this stage," she added.

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