Microsoft challenges €899 million fine


"Microsoft today filed with the Court of First Instance an application to annul the Commission decision of February 27," a Microsoft spokesman told reporters on Friday. "We are filing this appeal in a constructive effort to seek clarity from the court."

Microsoft was fined because of its failure to comply with a 2004 decision from the Commission which found that Microsoft had behaved in an anti-competitive manner. That decision contained instructions for Microsoft on how it must behave in the future.

The Commission found that it was not until October 2007 that the US software giant complied with those instructions. It fined it €899 million for that non-compliance on top of the €497 million fine originally levied in 2004.

"Microsoft was the first company in fifty years of EU competition policy that the Commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision", said European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes in February, announcing the new fine. "I hope that today's Decision closes a dark chapter in Microsoft's record of non-compliance with the Commission’s March 2004 Decision."

Microsoft has appealed that decision to the Court of First Instance (CFI), Europe's second highest court. It had also appealed the 2004 ruling and the CFI found in the European Commission's favour last year.

The original sanction was connected to Microsoft's dominance of the market for personal computer operating systems. The Commission said that it had used its 95% market share to stop rivals' technology from gaining a foothold.

It, and the CFI, found that Microsoft had failed to give rivals the information needed to make sure their technology worked with Microsoft Windows operating systems. It also found that the inclusion of media playing software in the Windows package undermined competition from other media software producers.

The CFI backed that ruling in September of last year and the Commission issued its fine in February.

In January the Commission began a new, similar case against Microsoft. The case claims that Microsoft has again failed to provide interoperability information to competitors, and that its inclusion of browser Internet Explorer will stifle competition in the browser market.