Software giant Microsoft is set to challenge the EU’s landmark $1.26 billion anti-trust fine.
The stakes are high and could hit more than Vole’s huge cash mountain. If it wins, then the ability for the EU to act as antitrust regulators could be seriously damaged.
Microsoft’s briefs are expected to argue that in 2008 the European Commission failed to give it sufficient guidance to avoid the fine.
The outfit is the only company in more than 50 years of EU competition policy to be punished for failing to comply with an order.
At the time the EU felt that Microsoft was dragging its tiny volish paws about handing details of its operating system over to rivals and was overcharging for licenses that rivals needed to connect products to Windows computers.
But since this is the first time that anyone has appealed an EU decision. The judges at the EU General Court in Luxembourg will clarify the scope of the commission’s power.
Legal experts said that at the heart of the case is whether or not a watchdog can find and penalise infringements without telling companies specifically what to do.
In this case, Microsoft was told to limit to a “reasonable” amount the royalties it charged for the technology. However the EU did not say how much was reasonable. So far things have gone the EU’s way with a court in September 2007 telling Microsoft to go forth and multiply.
Microsoft is not alone. Its appeal is supported by industry groups like CompTIA and the Association for Competitive Technology.