RealTime IT News

Microsoft Set with Day in Court

Microsoft confirmed that an EU appeals court will hear its request to suspend penalties in its antitrust judgment against the software vendor.

The European Court of First Instance announced that the hearing on Microsoft's request for a suspension of the remedies will take place on September 30; October 1 has been reserved in case more than one day is needed.

"We believe we have strong arguments to present to the court on suspension and why the commission's remedies would harm the industry and consumers," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler. "We look forward to presenting these arguments in Luxembourg at the end of September."

The Court of First Instance is the court established by the EU in 1989 to handle actions brought against the EU or its commissions, including requests for annulment of their rulings.

On March 24, the EU's regulatory body ruled that Microsoft abused its monopoly power and broke European anti-trust laws with anti-competitive behavior. The penalty was a $613 million (about 509 million euro) fine and an order to sell a version of Windows that does not include its Windows Media Player. Microsoft also was told to open its APIs to rival server software makers.

EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said the decision was "about protecting consumer choice and stimulating innovation."

Microsoft has argued that with this judgment, the EU is "seeking to make a new law that will have an adverse impact on intellectual property rights and the ability of dominant firms to innovate. ... The legal standards set by the commission's decision significantly alter incentives for research and development that are important to global economic growth."

In June, Microsoft formally appealed the European Union's $613 million antitrust ruling. The software giant asked the court to annul the EU regulators' decision and to annul or substantially reduce the fine, which Microsoft already has paid.

Microsoft's appeal of the EU's ruling could take as long as five years. If the court did stay the judgment, Microsoft could operate as usual while the appeal process runs its course, by which time its next-generation operating system, code-named Longhorn, would presumably have made significant market penetration.