Novell, CCIA evidence may be tossed out in MS EC case

Judge to review case

A European judge is to hold a closed-door meeting today to discuss the lifting of sanctions by the EU in its anti-trust ruling against Microsoft. Judge Bo Vesterdorf of the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg. has called the meeting to discuss the future of the case, following the withdrawal of Novell and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

In March this year the European Commission ruled that Microsoft had abused its dominance of the PC market. The EC imposed sanctions on the company including a fine of nearly $650m, instructions that it publish details of its Application Programming Interfaces and provide a version of Windows without Windows Media Player.

However, since Microsoft settled suits with the CCIA and with Novell, both organisations have withdrawn from the anti-trust case.

The departure of the CCIA is particularly contentious. Around half of the $20m settlement is alleged to have gone directly to the group's president, Ed Black. Nokia confirmed that it had quit the organisation in protest of the settlement, describing the process and content of the settlement as "inappropriate". Black himself denied that the CCIA had been bought, saying that the CCIA has not switched sides.

According to The Guardian Judge Vesterdorf wants to discuss how to treat evidence from those parties that have quit the case. Although many smaller groups such as the Free Software Foundation are still pressing the case against the software giant, Real Networks is the only remaining corporate opponent. Without the evidence from the CCIA and Novell, the settlement may be renegotiated.

Judge Vesterdorf is expected to rule soon on whether the penalties imposed on Microsoft should be suspended, while the company appeals against the ruling. ®

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