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Competition Commissioner 'Steely' Neelie Kroes hit back at US politicians who criticised this week's verdict from the Court of First Instance.

On Monday the court roundly rejected Microsoft's appeal of anti-trust charges and upheld the decision to fine the software giant €497m, forcing it to change its behaviour in Europe.

Thomas O Barnett, assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, said the verdict would take some time to digest, but warned: "[This] may have the unfortunate consequence of harming consumers by chilling innovation and discouraging competition."

His statement is here. Assorted US politicians made similar comments.

Kroes said: "I think it's totally unacceptable that a representative of the US administration criticises an independent court of law outside its jurisdiction. It's absolutely not done. The European Commission doesn't pass judgment on rulings by US courts, and we expect the same degree of respect from US authorities for rulings by EU courts."

In other news, the European Commission yesterday hit a group of zip makers with a €328m ($458m) fine for colluding unfairly. They were found guilty of fixing the price of zips and other fasteners. ®

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