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Microsoft criticizes EU's 'unreasonable' judgement

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Microsoft has opened its promised appeal against a European Union court fine of $1.4bn (899m euros), calling the charge "unreasonable" and "error prone".

The Commission ruled in February Microsoft had used high prices to discourage competition, and that it had failed to comply with earlier sanctions levied by the Commission.

The company told the Court of First Instance the charge had been made without it having taken into account the fact that "the contested decision only concludes that the royalties allegedly established by Microsoft under one particular license... were unreasonable."

According to Microsoft, the Commission made a "manifest error" in deciding its prices were unreasonable saying the prices were "intended to facilitate negotiations between Microsoft and the prospective licensees."

Among other claims, Microsoft said the Commission had ignored evidence from patent experts on the subject of whether Microsoft's trade secrets were innovative, and it had denied Microsoft a right to be heard as it failed to give Microsoft the chance to give its views at the end of the period for which it was fined.

Commission spokesperson Jonathan Todd reportedly said the Commission is confident that its decision to impose the fine was "legally sound".

Lest you'd forgotten, this latest fine stems from the Commission's ruling four years ago that Microsoft failed to comply with its order to provide information to competitors, on reasonable terms. The ruling came after it was found Microsoft had abused its position in the PC and operating systems markets to damage the competition on interoperability and on media players.

The Commission hit Microsoft with a $781m (497m euros) fine and again, later, with a fine $440m (280.5m euros) for non compliance after Microsoft lost an appeal against the first fine. The February fine covers the period of non compliance since the second fine through to October 21, 2007.®

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