Microsoft fined a record $1.35 billion

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Microsoft fined a record $1.35 billion

Post by narayanan on Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:23 pm




BRUSSELS: The European Commission regulators on Wednesday penalised the Microsoft Corporation with a fine of 899 million euros ($1.35 billion) for failing to comply with a 2004 antitrust order, a Europecrosoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision," European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told reporters in Brussels. "I hope that today's decision closes a dark chapter in Microsoft's record of non-compliance."
According to Kroes, Wednesday's fine brings the total penalties against Microsoft to 1.68 billion euros. The company was previously fined 778 million euros for abusing its dominance in the software market and failing to abide by the antitrust decision.
Microsoft has tried to allay European antitrust concerns, announcing last week that it will help competitors' software work better with some products, such as MS Office.
It sought to limit potential EU fines by agreeing in October to make network data available to open-source software developers so their server software can connect to the Windows operating system.
Kroes imposed the fine because Microsoft failed to charge "reasonable" royalty fees for patent licenses on operating system software. A European court upheld the commission's ruling against Microsoft in September, meaning the company wasn't in compliance for three years.
In September, the EU's Court of First Instance rejected a Microsoft appeal against a 2004 ruling with which the bloc's executive imposed a 497-million-euro fine - and an additional 280.5-million-euro penalty in December 2005 - on the company for abusing its dominant position.
The EU argues that Microsoft has been able to reap unfair benefits and damage consumers by refusing to give so-called "interoperability" protocols - instructions needed by servers to work effectively with Windows - to its rivals.
US-based Microsoft said in a statement that it would review the decision.
"These fines are about the past issues that have been resolved," the company said. "As we demonstrated last week with our new interoperability principles and specific actions to increase the openness of our products, we are focusing on steps that will improve things for the future."
Last month, EU regulators opened fresh investigations into whether Microsoft is using its dominance in word processing and spreadsheets to thwart rivals and whether the company illegally tied an Internet browser to its Windows operating system. The fine isn't related to the new probes. - PTI

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