EC wants more from Microsoft

More info on patents

fingers pointing at man

The European Commission is still pushing Microsoft to open up the communication protocols which developers need to make sofware which interacts with Microsoft products.

As part of the anti-trust ruling last year the Commission ordered Microsoft to improve access to its APIs. Microsoft is meant to be licensing access to this technology to rival firms.

Competition Director General Philip Lowe told Reuters last week: “The key to the solution of interoperability is to be to able to identify -- and Microsoft is capable of doing this - those parts of the interoperability information which it believes are covered by patents.”

The two must also agree on how rival firms will pay for this information. Lowe said the Commission needs to know how much information is covered by patents, and should be paid for, and how much: “could probably be simply freely available information.”

The EC wants more information from Microsoft detailing which protocols are covered by patents and which are not. The problem is made worse because the majority of the patents are covered by US rather than EC law. Only four of the 34 patents at the centre of the dispute are registered in Europe, according to the FT.

The two also disagree as to how companies should pay for access to the information. The EC is believed to favour a one-off fee while Microsoft would prefer a royalty based on sales of the products made using the access provided.

The Commission has warned Microsoft that it faces fines of up to $5m a day on top of its fine of €497m. ®

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