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Microsoft loses appeal against EU antitrust smackdown

Court upholds fine, but knocks it down to €860m

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The EU's second-highest court has rejected Microsoft's appeal on the antitrust fine levied by the European Commission four years about, although it did knock a cool €39m (£31.2m) off the total.

The General Court was unmoved by Microsoft's arguments against the fine, which was imposed by the European Commission after Microsoft failed to comply with an original antitrust ruling – which had found that Redmond was charging competitors too much for interoperability info for its servers.

"The General Court essentially upholds the commission’s decision imposing a periodic penalty payment on Microsoft for failing to allow its competitors access to interoperability information on reasonable terms," the court said in a canned statement.

However, the court said it felt it had to knock some money off the fine because of a letter from the EC in June 2005 in which it accepted that Microsoft could restrict distribution of open source products until delivery of the Court's judgment in September 2007. Because the commission essentially accepted the unlawful conduct for that time, the court reduced the fine from €899m to €860m.

Microsoft said that it was disappointed with the verdict.

"Although the General Court slightly reduced the fine, we are disappointed with the court's ruling," the firm said in an emailed statement.

The EU's competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that the judgement "fully vindicated" the commission's enforcement action.

"The ruling confirms that Microsoft did not comply with the commission's decision and that the commission was right to impose a penalty, even though the court chose to slightly reduce the amount," he said in a statement.

"The requirement that Microsoft disclose information to its competitors so as to allow interoperability between the dominant Windows architecture and rival work group servers brought significant benefits to users," he added. "The commission's determination to enforce that requirement was instrumental in achieving that result." ®

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