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Microsoft loses E500m EC appeal

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Microsoft has lost its appeal to the European Commission judgement that it has abused its dominant market position and ordered to pay the imposed fine of almost half-a-billion Euros. Ironically, the order comes just days after Microsoft signed a joint co-operation deal with Sun Microsystems – the company which brought the original complaint. 

The Court of First Instance handed down the results of the lengthy appeal to the 2004 finding this morning, making it clear that the Commission had acted correctly.
It did , however, annul one of the original orders, that Microsoft set out a proposal to the Commission for establishing a "suitable mechanism" in monitoring compliance.
Instead, the Court ordered Microsoft to submit a proposal for the establishment of a mechanism which is to include a monitoring trustee with the power to have access, independently of the Commission, to Microsoft’s assistance, information, documents, premises and employees and to the source code of the relevant Microsoft products.
All other parts of the original judgement were upheld, including the fine of almost half-a-billion Euros.
The original judgement found that Microsoft infringed Article 82 EC and Article 54 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) by twice abusing a dominant position, for operating systems and for Windows Media Player interoperability.
The first abusive conduct was Microsoft's refusal to supply its competitors with interoperability information and to authorise the use of that information for the purpose of developing and distributing products competing with Microsoft’s own products on the work group server operating systems market.
The second abusive conduct arose from the fact that Microsoft made the availability of the Windows client PC operating system conditional on the simultaneous acquisition of the Windows Media Player software.
In respect of the two abuses identified in the contested decision, a fine of E497 196 304.00 was imposed.
A number of other conditions were set, including the cessation of abusive practices, opening of its operating systems to competitors, and continual updating of interoperability information.