Feeds

Microsoft ruling may not bolster Europe's new case, warns lawyer

Don't count your chickens...

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A landmark court ruling which last year backed the European Commission's last competition action against Microsoft may not be as helpful in its current action as has been widely thought, according to a competition lawyer.

The commission's 2004 decision to fine Microsoft €497m was backed by the Court of the First Instance of the European Communities (CFI) and the judgment is widely regarded as having strengthened the commission's hand for cases it has subsequently launched.

But an analysis of the decision by competition lawyer Adrian Wood of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, found that the case offers fewer comforts to the commission than many have assumed.

"There is still no real consensus on what [the Microsoft ruling] tells us for the future," Wood told OUT-LAW Radio. "The ability to have some form of over-arching broad set of principles was lost a little bit and so in that sense there is a disappointment there. We did not get crisp, clear, practical pointers for generic use."

The commission has begun competition cases against Intel, Qualcomm, and a new action against Microsoft in recent months, moves that have been seen as a reflection of its post-ruling confidence. But Wood said it ought not to rely too heavily on a judgment seen by some as flawed.

"In terms of the bundling of media player to the Windows environment the CFI took on board all of the commission's arguments without question," said Wood. "I think there were certain elements of the judgment where the commission is going to hesitate somewhat before relying fully on [it] as a way for going forward."

The new investigation into Microsoft will look into whether it is legal for a company with its market dominance to include web browser Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system. It will also look at whether the operating system allows for enough interoperability with other companies' software.

The case was sparked by a complaint from competing browser maker Opera. That company's chief executive Jon von Tetchzner told OUT-LAW Radio that he has every confidence that the previous Microsoft case is a positive precedent that he thinks will be followed.

"I think there are similarities. This is in some ways a very similar case to the recent [one]," he said. "I think if anything the browser case is even clearer. I do believe there are similarities. We are expecting good results out of this."

The two cases are similar: both involve questions of the interoperability of the Windows system and both rest on the legality of software bundling. The previous case hinged on the bundling of a media player with the system, the new case on the inclusion of a web browser.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.