Earlier this month, Microsoft asked a Federal Court to require Sun, IBM, Oracle, and Novell to provide copies of their correspondence with the European Commission and some other parties in the ongoing EU antitrust case. Today the requests for the Sun and Oracle subpoenas were denied:
A District Court in California on Wednesday quashed an attempt by Microsoft Corp. to force Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp. to provide documents in its battle with the European Commission.
But judges in New York and Boston are still considering similar requests against IBM and Novell Inc., respectively, as Microsoft fights against possible fines of up to 2 million euros a day for failing to carry out sanctions imposed by the Commission, lawyers for one of the companies said.
A European Commission hearing officer, Karen Williams, had rejected Microsoft’s for a number of documents, ruling they were confidential. So Microsoft got U.S. courts to issue subpoenas, which were challenged.
“Microsoft has attempted to cast the DG-Competition as an ‘adversary.’ In light of the nature of the European Commission, that label is incorrect,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Trumbull, in a six-page decision issued Wednesday.
“As a matter of comity, this court presumes the neutrality of both the DG-Competition and the European Commission,” the judge wrote.
DG-Competition is shorthand for the Competition Directorate General run by Neelie Kroes, the European Commission’s Competition Commissioner. The legal point is apparently that a presumption of impartiality is often uniformly extended to foreign governmental bodies.