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MS to request stay of EC ruling

Delaying action pending appeal

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Microsoft is to ask for a stay of the EC ruling that it must share information with its competitors, pending its appeal.

The full appeal process - already filed with the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg - is legally complex and could take as long as five years to complete. A decision on a stay could be made much more quickly, even as early as this year, the FT reports.

The outcome of this latest move by Microsoft will have huge implications for the relationship between Brussels and the software giant. In March this year, the European Commission ordered Microsoft to pay a $600m fine; share interface information with its competitors and offer a version of Windows that does not include its Windows Media Player.

If the request for a stay is granted, Microsoft gets a huge amount of breathing space. It will still have to pay the fine, but as was reported at the time, that is small change to Microsoft. Conversely, if the request is denied, the European Commission may be sufficiently emboldened to pursue other legal actions against the company.

Even in the short term, this move is a nice delaying action. At the very least, the court is likely to suspend the Commission's ruling while the longer suspension request is considered, or risk prejudicing the outcome of the stay request.

Longer term, for the stay to be granted, Microsoft must show that it could suffer irreparable harm from the Commission's decision. ®

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