European court upholds Microsoft fine in 14-year old antitrust case

By on June 27, 2012, 2:30 PM

Microsoft has lost its appeal against a fine imposed by the European Commission in 2008 for breaking antitrust laws. The case dates back to 1998 but it wasn’t until 2004 that the software giant was fined €497 million and ordered to allow competitors' products to interface properly with Microsoft's server software. It was penalized another €280.5 million for noncompliance in 2006, and then another €899 million in 2008.

Although the General Court, the second highest tribunal in the European Union, rejected a plea by Microsoft to dismiss the latest fine, it did find that regulators at the European Commission had miscalculated the amount and ordered a reduction of 39 million euros to €860.

Counting the two earlier fines this case has wound up costing Microsoft a grand total of € 1.64 billion. According to LA Times, that’s the most ever resulting from a single antitrust case in Europe, though in 2009 Intel was hit with the largest single fine when it was ordered to pay €1.06 billion for offering kickbacks to manufacturers and retailers to favor its products over rival AMD’s. Intel is still appealing that decision.

Microsoft may still make one final appeal of the ruling to the European Court of Justice, but beyond expressing disappointment at the verdict the company hasn’t said if it will take that route.

Outside of this case Microsoft has no active outstanding quarrels with European regulators. In 2009, Microsoft entered into a broad understanding with the Commission that resolved its competition law concerns, most notably the inclusion of Internet Explorer on all Windows PCs. Microsoft agreed to instead offer customers the option to choose from among 12 browsers via a browser ballot.

Ironically, now it’s Microsoft the one asking EU regulators to investigate Google over anticompetitive practices. The company claims Google is demanding unreasonable fees to license its technologies, and abuses its market position to promote its own businesses in search results at the expense of competitors.




User Comments: 11

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Guest said:

In 2009, Microsoft entered into a broad understanding with the Commission that resolved its competition law concerns, most notably the inclusion of Internet Explorer on all Windows PCs.

How did Safari not get dealt with the same way?

KG363 KG363 said:

Absolutely ridiculous fine. EU regulators should be ashamed of themselves.

GeforcerFX GeforcerFX said:

Hmm I wonder why Microsoft has considered not selling in some European countries anymore...

Is the first fine a typo or were they actually only Fined 497 (I am guessing Euros)

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

In 2009, Microsoft entered into a broad understanding with the Commission that resolved its competition law concerns, most notably the inclusion of Internet Explorer on all Windows PCs.

How did Safari not get dealt with the same way?

Or Chrome/Android for that matter?

If it wasn't for the fact that the European economy would collapse, MS should just withdraw all sales and support from Europe for a while, lets see how long they would last.

The EU is a bit too enamored with its own perceived brilliance.

Det Det said:

Absolutely ridiculous fine. EU regulators should be ashamed of themselves.

Your post was absolutely ridiculous.

SCJake said:

In 2009, Microsoft entered into a broad understanding with the Commission that resolved its competition law concerns, most notably the inclusion of Internet Explorer on all Windows PCs.

How did Safari not get dealt with the same way?

Or Chrome/Android for that matter?

If it wasn't for the fact that the European economy would collapse, MS should just withdraw all sales and support from Europe for a while, lets see how long they would last.

The EU is a bit too enamored with its own perceived brilliance.

correct me if im wrong, but isnt most of EU in favor of open source to the point of its looked down on sometimes if youre not open source?

pulling out of there would be horrible for M$ because Linux adoption would skyrocket. Linux is by far the best platform ive ever used. as far as what most people use computers for its pathetically easy to install/use if youre using Ubuntu/mint/etc. so this would just cause a total loss of customer base for M$

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

correct me if im wrong, but isnt most of EU in favor of open source to the point of its looked down on sometimes if youre not open source?

pulling out of there would be horrible for M$ because Linux adoption would skyrocket. Linux is by far the best platform ive ever used. as far as what most people use computers for its pathetically easy to install/use if youre using Ubuntu/mint/etc. so this would just cause a total loss of customer base for M$

Doesn't matter how they feel about open source, if its illegal to bundle a browser with your OS, then Android and OSX, the latter of which is not open source, should not get a pass either.

I was joking about pulling out of Europe. Linux adoption would not skyrocket, just as it hasn't skyrocketed in the past 20 years. Nobody wants to use Linux, that's why nobody is using a free, customizable, powerful, hardware efficient OS. They would make deals and MS would come back.

Tygerstrike said:

Is it not ironic that MS points at other ppl saying "See they are doing it too kinda!" When they are not? MS has the cash to pay this off. Maybe Bill Gates really doesnt need a new jet or whale aquarium. It amazes me how these legal proceddings go. The regular individual would not get the same concessions that these big corps get. If a individual didnt pay their fines there would be jail time. Why hasnt the CFO and Bill Gates been thrown in the slammer yet? Oh wait I know......money....

TJGeezer said:

The only convincing objection I've seen comes from @gwailo247 - why not also Android and OSX? I don't particularly care about corporations; they're just vehicles for rich people to make money without personal responsibility anyway. But a public authority not being even-handed in its application of the law is worth objecting to. And if Microsoft didn't disregard the original fine but has been in process of legally appealing the matter ever since, letting the fine build up to $1+ billion might be hard to defend logically.

Feels like I'm missing something here - like, did MS comply with the order while appealing the fine, or simply ignore the whole ruling, or...? Because this feels like it's more about the original order itself and the power of the EU to enforce it than about bundling a browser with an OS.

Det Det said:

The only convincing objection I've seen comes from @gwailo247 - why not also Android and OSX? I don't particularly care about corporations; they're just vehicles for rich people to make money without personal responsibility anyway. But a public authority not being even-handed in its application of the law is worth objecting to. And if Microsoft didn't disregard the original fine but has been in process of legally appealing the matter ever since, letting the fine build up to $1+ billion might be hard to defend logically.

Feels like I'm missing something here - like, did MS comply with the order while appealing the fine, or simply ignore the whole ruling, or...? Because this feels like it's more about the original order itself and the power of the EU to enforce it than about bundling a browser with an OS.

Yeah, I think MS didn't comply so they just kept increasing the fine.

Also Android/Mac/Linux/etc. don't have market dominance so they don't have to do anything.

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