Feeds

What does Microsoft's European defeat mean?

Lawyers speak

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Microsoft today lost the majority of its appeal against the European Commission anti-trust decision. Microsoft will have to open up access to its server protocols, continue selling a version of its Windows operating system without Media Player, and pay a fine of at least €497m.

But Microsoft did have the imposition of monitoring trustee removed.

Guy Lougher, national head of EU and competition group at Pinsent Masons, told The Reg: "It's not necessarily the end of the story - Microsoft still has two months in which to appeal. There is likely room on points of law for an appeal against either the bundling or the interoperability issues. They will need to pore over the lengthy judgement carefully but there's likely to be room for a challenge if they choose to take it."

Lougher said if the judgement stands it will create opportunities for smaller businesses to challenge the interoperability restrictions of larger companies, as well as launching possible challenges to companies selling bundled packages of applications.

As for the impact on the Directorate General for Competition, Lougher said: "Since the original decision the commission has been effectively waiting for the court's decision. It has suffered several reverses at the hands of the court so this is an opportunity for the commission to be more active and aggressive. It is certainly a filip for morale.

"The sums involved would pay for a lot of expenses. Microsoft may decide it has little to lose by appealing. If it doesn't appeal this decision it may well face tougher fights in the future."

Michael Reynolds, a partner at Allen & Overy's international anti-trust group in Brussels, said: "This is important for the IT industry because companies negotiating with Microsoft who feel they are being treated abusively will have this decision in mind." Reynolds led the team representing Sun Microsystems which made the original complaint against Microsoft.

Reynolds said the verdict will give the commission renewed confidence. He said: "The commission decided not to settle this case. That was a very important decision and it was a bit of a gamble. Having gone down that road it is now in a very strong position, not just for Microsoft, but for dealing with other cases too. There are other investigations on the books and others like Google and IBM."

Asked whether Microsoft is likely to appeal, Reynolds said: "I think it might be difficult. The court has reaffirmed existing law rather than made big leaps forward."

For a US perspective we spoke to Carole Handler, vice chair of the IP Litigation Practice at Foley & Lardner. She said: "It's fascinating from a US perspective because the EU takes a much more proactive view of anti-trust regulation. The court has upheld a requirement to hand over intellectual property. It suggests that that EU will take a tougher line on Rambus and Intel."

Handler also said the decision could have an impact on strengthening US regulation, as could the upcoming US election. She said for multinational companies dealing with many different jurisdictions a situation could develop where rather than operate under many different sets of rules, companies instead choose the most rigorous set of rules in order that they are in fact compliant with everyone's regulations. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.