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MS wins more time in Euro antitrust case

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Microsoft has been given a few more days to respond to the European Commission requirement that it provide data relating to the complaint made public last month. This was lodged by end users, SMEs and competitors (including Sun), and concerns alleged leveraging of Windows 2000 in the server market. The Complaint is under Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty of Rome, which prohibit abusive and exclusionary behaviour by undertakings in a dominant position. The grant of extra time does not yet put the Commission into the missionary position, but it is no doubt a try-on by Microsoft to see just how determined the Commission is. We know that there was sufficient substance to justify an Article 11, Regulation 17/62 complaint, and that Sun was one of the competitors, but there would appear to be a minimum of five more complainants. Mario Monti, the Italian competition commissioner, is wisely not saying how long the Commission will need to study Microsoft's response, except to call it "a considerable time". However, Microsoft will find it does not have as many legal avenues in Europe as in the US, and that the case could move along quite quickly by comparison, if the Commission makes a formal accusation after studying what it receives. ®

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