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6/24/2004
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Microsoft Readies Request For Stay Of EU's Antitrust Decision

A spokesman says the request for a stay that would keep the decision and its penalties from taking effect should be filed in the next few days.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. said Thursday it is getting ready to formally ask a court to stop the European Union's landmark antitrust decision from taking effect while its appeal is being considered.

The request for a stay should be filed with the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg "in the coming days," said Tom Brookes, a spokesman for the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant.

Microsoft filed its 100-page appeal on June 7, asking the court to annul the EU's ruling and sanctions that include a record fine of 497 million euros ($596 million) and potentially far-reaching orders to sell a version of Windows minus Microsoft's digital Media Player and to share more of its software code for computers that run on a network.

The sanctions are due to begin going into effect at the end of June. Court president Bo Vesterdorf was expected to decide within days whether to freeze them pending a final ruling on the stay later this year. The main appeal is expected to take around five years.

To win a stay, Microsoft must convince Vesterdorf it faces "irreparable harm" by implementing the measures now, even if they are reversed later.

Microsoft is likely to argue that Europe's orders to change Windows violate its intellectual-property rights, forcing it to give away proprietary secrets and eroding the Windows brand by marketing versions with fewer functions.

Meanwhile, a trade group representing Microsoft opponents announced it filed an application Wednesday to intervene in the court proceedings to support the European Commission.

"A suspension of the Commission's remedies would create irreparable harm--to consumers, competitors, and the marketplace," said Ed Black, head of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

The Washington-based group, whose members include Sun Microsystems, Nortel Networks, and Nokia, has another complaint against Microsoft pending before the EU. A stay of the sanctions could slow that case as well.

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