Report: EU Requiring Microsoft to Essentially Give Away Technical Info to Competitors

Citing confidential documents related to Microsoft's years-long antitrust battle with the European Union (EU), the "Financial Times" reported yesterday that European Commission (EC) regulators are forcing the software giant to turn over "sensitive and valuable" internal documentation to competitors for almost no compensation. Microsoft has been fighting the EU over the terms of its antitrust case since March 2004, and the last compliance issue remaining is this technical information.

Microsoft had hoped to recoup some of its cost by charging licensees a royalty of up to 5.95 percent of any revenues made by licensee products based on the documentation. But the Times says that the EU is demanding that Microsoft be allowed only a "tiny fraction of the royalties" it expected. "The prices charged by Microsoft are prohibitive and would not allow \[its competitors\] to develop products that would be viable from a business perspective," the EC complained in documents quoted by the Times.

Microsoft was recently granted a three week extension to respond to the latest EU complaints. In the same confidential documentation, Microsoft told the EU that it would "respond to the latest statement of objections in full by April 23. We believe we are in compliance with the March 2004 decision and that the terms on which we have made the protocols available are reasonable and non-discriminatory."

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