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Microsoft Faces EU Fines… Again

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The European Commission has daily fines of $4 million in store for Microsoft, who in turn have complained that the Commission thinks "patented innovation must be made available for free

." The antitrust fight between Microsoft and the Commission has been going on since 2004. Microsoft has been threatened with fines and accused of footdragging, while the Commission has been accused of wanting to throw Microsoft’s technology into the wild. Matters escalated with the announcement that a still-displeased Commission considers Microsoft in violation of its antitrust ruling requirements.

 From an AP report:

"This is a company which apparently does not like to have to conform with antitrust decisions," said EU Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd. Under a 2004 antitrust ruling by the European Union, Microsoft had to disclose complete and accurate interface documentation on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, allowing its competitors to interoperate with Windows PCs and servers.

The two sides have been exchanging flying drop kicks over the issue of innovation. Microsoft’s general counsel and senior VP Brad Smith said in a statement his company has "a different perspective on the underlying facts and the proposed findings" of the Commission. He cited PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found Microsoft’s proposed protocol pricing "at least 30 percent" under the market rate for comparable technology.

Smith also slammed the Commission’s stance in its findings that unless Microsoft’s technology is innovative and patentable, it must be made available royalty-free. "That has never been the standard for software or other intellectual property, and it misstates the test agreed to by the Commission and Microsoft in June 2005, which has been available on Microsoft’s website since that time," said Smith.

The Commission’s opinion has been largely unchanged through the years. In their latest statement, EU Antitrust Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, "I am therefore again obliged to take formal measures to ensure that Microsoft complies with its obligations." Microsoft has four weeks to reply to the Commission’s Statement of Objections.

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Microsoft Faces EU Fines… Again
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