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Microsoft Asks EU To Annul $1.35 Billion Antitrust Fine

The commission imposed the fine after determining that Microsoft was not living up to the terms of an antitrust settlement that followed a 2004 ruling.
Microsoft is asking the European Union to annul a record, $1.35 billion fine that the EU's competition commission imposed on the software maker in February for violating antitrust rules.

In an action brought before the EU, Microsoft called the penalty "excessive and disproportionate," and said the European Commission made numerous errors when it levied the fine.

The commission imposed the fine after determining that Microsoft was not living up to the terms of an antitrust settlement that followed a 2004 ruling in which the EC found that the company was engaging in anti-competitive behavior by overcharging rivals for the documentation they need to make their server products interoperable with Windows-based PCs and servers.

Microsoft, however, now claims the fine is unwarranted for several reasons.

It contends that the commission ordered it to make its documentation available under "reasonable" price terms without first specifying what it considered to be reasonable.

Microsoft, according to the EU's Official Journal, also claims that its rates were lower than what a third party expert considered reasonable.

The company also charges that the commission compiled assessment reports "on the basis of documents obtained through powers of investigation that the [European] Court of First Instance held to be unlawful."

Microsoft also alleged that the commission "denied Microsoft's right to be heard by failing to give Microsoft an opportunity to make known its views after the end of the reference period for which Microsoft is fined."

The $1.35 billion fine is in addition to the more than $1 billion in penalties that the EC originally imposed on Microsoft following the 2004 ruling.

Microsoft in January announced significant changes to the way it will manufacture and license software -- partly in an effort to appease the EC and other antitrust regulators. Among other things, Microsoft promised to publish more than 30,000 pages of documentation for Windows and client server protocols previously available only through a trade secrets license.

It also pledged not to sue open source developers that use Microsoft technologies in non-commercial applications.

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