Microsoft Officially Protests EU Antitrust Fine

Microsoft on Monday argued before the EU Court of First Instance in Brussels that the $1.4 billion antitrust fine levied against it in February is both "excessive and disproportionate." The European Commission assessed the fine because Microsoft had, at the time, continually delayed its compliance with an EU antitrust verdict against the company.

"The Commission failed to take due account of the fact that the contested decision only concludes that the royalties allegedly established by Microsoft under one particular license were unreasonable," a summary of Microsoft's arguments reads. This passage refers to the final contested point of Microsoft's antitrust case in Europe, in which the software giant has been required to document its server protocols to competitors. Microsoft's original royalty structure for the protocols was deemed excessive by EU regulators.

Microsoft further argued that it and the EC had agreed to have a third party trustee review the royalty structure but that the EC eventually just declared the rates as unreasonable without further review. The EC says its decision was "legally sound."

Microsoft has been fined a record sum in the EU for its antitrust behavior and related recalcitrance. After an initial $1.4 billion fine in March 2004, the EU later fined Microsoft twice for failing to meet the requirements of its initial ruling in a timely manner. To date, Microsoft has been fined over $2.6 billion in Europe. Microsoft's fines for lateness cover periods between 2004 to 2005 and 2006 to 2007.

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