updated 02:35 pm EDT, Fri April 10, 2009
MS Fined for Price Fixing
German antitrust regulatory officials today fined Microsoft 9 million Euros, or the equivalent of $11.8 million, for alleged price fixing on its Office suite. The American software developer was found responsible for unfairly setting the price of Office 2007 Home and Student illegally by talking to Microsoft about the price before promptly promoting the software together. An official commentary defends the verdict by noting that it was Microsoft's particular approach to the deal and not the act of agreeing to a price itself that broke the law.
"Not every contact between supplier and retailer regarding resale prices constitutes an illegal concerted practice," the officials said. "[But] in the present case, this boundary has been crossed."
Microsoft intends to ensure it follows the law in the future.
The fine is the latest from Europe for Microsoft, which has faced a penalty as large as $1.4 billion from the European Commission for its alleged refusal to properly open certain operating system code to outsiders. It risks additional punishment from a newer complaint that accuses it of unfairly bundling Internet Explorer and discouraging users from trying competing web browsers.