Microsoft Set to Face Off Against EU

In closed-door hearings this Thursday and Friday at European Union (EU) offices in Brussels, Microsoft lawyers will try to argue that the company shouldn't be charged as much as $2 million per day for--according to the EU--taking too long to comply with the requirements of the EU’s 2004 antitrust ruling. Microsoft says the requirements are too vague and that it has tried, in good faith, to do what the EU wishes.


"We know that the \[technical\] specifications \[the EU required Microsoft to provide\] need to be complete and accurate, but there's nothing that defines what 'complete' means," said Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith. The current concerns focus on the EU's demand for Microsoft to submit technical documentation to help Microsoft's rivals in the server market create products that work more effectively with Windows. According to regulators at the European Commission (EC), Microsoft is instead "withholding interoperability information" and "building artificial barriers to entry." The EC says its requirements are simple: Microsoft must deliver technical information that actually works.

Microsoft was originally supposed to comply with the ruling by July 22, 2004. However, because of Microsoft's continual tardiness over the past year and a half, the EC began legal proceedings in December 2005 that could result in fines of approximately $2 million per day. "We're thinking of fining them because our view is that they haven't complied with the requirements of the decision to make available this interoperability information," an EC spokesperson said this week, noting that the fines will date back to December 15, 2004 if the EC rules against Microsoft.

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