Microsoft has appealed a 899 million euro ($1.27 billion) antitrust fine imposed by the European Union, claiming the fine is “excessive and undeserved.”
According to Reuters report “The 2008 European Commission fined Microsoft for not complying with an earlier antitrust order that required the software giant to charge reasonable rates for competitors licensing its technology. The 2004 ruling had required Microsoft to provide information that would allow competitors’ products to work on computers running the Windows operating system and, specifically, to make licenses available at reasonable rates, which the Commission said Microsoft failed to do.”
The fine was “most undeserved,” and the company hadn’t received adequate guidance from the Commission about setting appropriate rates, Jean Francois Bellis, Microsoft’s lawyer told the General Court, Europe’s second-highest.
“This case wouldn’t have arisen if the Commission had been as explicit with respect to rates which it wanted Microsoft to charge as it had been with all other terms of licensing proposed by Microsoft,” said Bellis.
“This is a case about a gambler who doubled up on a losing bet, lost again and now wants his money back,” Nicholas Khan, a lawyer for the Commission, told the court.
Reuters reports that the General Court typically issues verdicts between 6 to 12 months after a hearing. If the court rules against Microsoft — the expected outcome — the company can lodge an appeal with Europe’s highest court, the EU Court of Justice, but only on points of law.
In 2008, the antitrust fine was the largest ever imposed by the Commission, and marked the first time the regulator penalized a company for failing to comply with a court order.
The hearing will be watched by companies challenging regulatory fines, among them Intel Corp, which has appealed in EU courts against a 1.06 billion euro ($2.26 billion) penalty imposed by the Commission last year.