Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the European Union (EU) on Monday. The company is seeking an application for annulment with the EU Court of First Instance for its requirement to broadly license communications protocols to competitors, a condition of the antitrust ruling against the software giant. The March 2004 EU ruling required the company to pay a fine, offer consumers a version of Windows XP without Windows Media Player (WMP), and broadly license server-related communications protocols.
Microsoft has been slow to respond to the EU's requirements, frequently raising the wrath of the EU's antitrust body, the European Commission. Earlier this year, after months of delays delivering the XP N Editions, which don't include WMP, Microsoft barely met a June compliance date by filing a petition of agreement. The Commission had been threatening to sanction Microsoft and perhaps issue daily fines until the company met the ruling's requirements.
The licensing of communications protocols has always been a contentious matter for Microsoft. After getting the EU to agree that the companies that license the protocols couldn't discuss them publicly, Microsoft angered the EU by charging too much for the licenses, a move that turned away potential licensees. Open-source companies also complained about the licenses, leading to further pressure from the EU. Microsoft would now like to simply put this matter behind it by not licensing the protocols at all.
"Microsoft has filed an application for annulment with the Court of First Instance specifically concerning the issue of broad licenses for the source code of communications protocols," a Microsoft spokesperson said yesterday. "We are taking this step so the court can begin its review of this issue now, given its far-reaching implications for the protection of our intellectual property rights around the world."