updated 12:15 pm EDT, Mon July 7, 2008
Microsoft Protests EU Fine
Microsoft today argued in the European Commission's Court of First Instance that the record $1.4 billion fine imposed against it is unfair. The complaint follows a promise to appeal the EU-run Commission's decision and claims that the punishment is both excessive and was imposed without giving Microsoft legal options it expected before it was fined.
The Windows creator asserts that it was only found responsible for demanding questionable royalties on one license for code documentation rather than all of them and thus shouldn't have been forced to pay as much as it has. These rates were also allegedly meant to ease access for companies who would need to pay royalties to use technologies themselves.
European officials also didn't allow a mutually-approved review process to go through, ignored opinions from patent experts, and denied Microsoft its right to a response before the fine was levied, according to the software developer's legal officials.
The European Commission's response in court hasn't been revealed, though the organization maintains that the $1.4 billion fine was "legally sound," according to spokesman Jonathan Todd.
The Commission originally justified the fine by making an example of Microsoft and claiming that the American company was the first in 50 years of Europe-wide policy to allegedly violate antitrust law a second time following a fine. Microsoft was ordered in 2004 to publish code information allowing rivals to develop software that integrates with Microsoft software as well as Office and other programs, but insisted on collecting both sales and patent royalties. The move is believed by the Commission and some observers to have been a deliberate effort on Microsoft's part to discourage software firms from using its code.