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March 30, 2006

First day of Microsoft EU antitrust hearing

Posted by David Hunter at 7:08 PM ET.

Ingrid Marson at ZDNet (UK) has a detailed recounting of the first day of the Microsoft antitrust compliance hearing before the European Commission that we mentioned earlier today. It doesn’t look like the Commission is buying Microsoft’s arguments, but that isn’t unexpected. More hopeful is:

Although the Commission appears unwavering in its decision that Microsoft has not complied with the order, the prospect for reaching a settlement on the fine may be greater, the source said.

During the hearing, one member of the Commission’s examination team noted that Microsoft has “made some progress” in providing better documentation.

“Because there has been continuous improvements in documentation, a settlement may be possible, whereas before the Commission refused to settle,” the source speculated.

As for tomorrow’s session, that’s when third parties with an interest in the case will testify.

Speaking of interested parties, Paul Meller of the IDG News Service reports that the US State Department weighed in today with a letter:

U.S. diplomats have intervened, urging the European Commission as well as all 25 national governments in the European Union to be fair to the company, diplomats and Commission officials said Thursday as the closed-door hearings got underway.

According to a memo written by unnamed government officials in Washington, D.C., the Microsoft complaints raise “substantial concerns” about the way Microsoft is being treated in the antitrust case, said a person familiar with the Commission’s activities. The memo was distributed to embassies around the E.U. and through the U.S. mission to the E.U. in Brussels.

Diplomats from the U.S. mission to the E.U. visited the offices of three European commissioners earlier this week. Jonathan Todd, the spokesman for Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes confirmed that her close aides met with U.S. diplomats this week, and received the memo. He declined to comment on its content.

U.S. diplomats are also understood to have visited the offices of Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and Commission Vice President Gunter Verheugen, according to a person familiar with the Commission’s activities.

A U.S. diplomat denied that the government is coming to Microsoft’s aide in its antitrust dispute. “Our interest is less that than wanting to see that everything is done properly,” the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.

“We are careful not to take a position on the accuracy of Microsoft’s accusations, but if they were true they would be a matter of concern,” the diplomat said.

More on the history of diplomatic efforts by following the link.

Filed under Antitrust, General Business, Governmental Relations, Legal, Microsoft

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One Response to “First day of Microsoft EU antitrust hearing”

  1. Microsoft claims EU hearing “breakthrough,” others scoff -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] The two day EU Microsoft antitrust hearing wound up yesterday with the participants putting widely varying spins on what the outcome was. Paul Meller at InfoWorld: Microsoft left a two-day antitrust hearing in Brussels Friday claiming it had reached a breakthrough with European regulators in a dispute that may still result in the company being fined up to €2 million ($2.4 million) a day. [...]

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