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March 28, 2006

Microsoft preps for European showdowns

Posted by David Hunter at 7:59 PM ET.

Yes, it’s plural. The first showdown is coming up this Thursday when Microsoft faces an administrative hearing where they will appeal the fines imposed last December because they are deemed to have unduly delayed documenting server protocols as ordered. David Lawsky at Reuters:

Microsoft has a last chance to convince EU regulators this week that the software giant should not be fined up to 2 million euros ($2.4 million) daily for failing to carry out antitrust sanctions.

A European Commission hearing officer will listen to the company’s defense on Thursday and Friday — behind closed doors — against charges Microsoft has dragged its feet in the two years since a landmark antitrust decision found it used the dominance of its Windows operating system to damage competitors.

The “behind closed doors” is a reference to Microsoft’s refused request to make the hearing public.

However, the hearing is really a sideshow on the way to the big Microsoft appeal in April of the original March 2004 judgement against them before before the European Court of First Instance. David Lawsky and Sabina Zawadzki report at Reuters that as part of the preparation, Microsoft hired some former EU judges for a mock trial:

In a sign of how meticulously Microsoft is planning its antitrust battle against the European Commission next month, it hired three former EU judges to stage a mock trial, a source close to the situation said.

The software giant has appealed against a March 2004 ruling by a European court that it abused the dominance of its Windows operating system.

The mock trial was held in January in New York and one of the judges was a former Belgian justice minister, Melchior Wathelet, who worked for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) — Europe’s highest court, the source said on Tuesday.

The names of the other former judges were not known.

Microsoft would not confirm or deny that it had hired the former judges.

“As is typical for an important case, we have our counsel present our case to a variety of different lawyers in private practice. We have found this helps ensure that the highly technical material is presented clearly,” it said in a statement.

If you are finding it difficult to keep the all the threads of this case separate, Reuters has also prepared a useful chronology.

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

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One Response to “Microsoft preps for European showdowns”

  1. Microsoft and EU trash talking before the bout -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Today’s the start of the European Commission hearing on Microsoft’s appeal of the large fines slapped on them for noncompliance with the EC’s antitrust directives and the two sides were getting in some verbal jabs before the bout started. Microsoft lead off with a press release, Tech Companies Say Microsoft Documents Enable Product Development, that quoted six firms, including EMC, as saying that Microsoft’s technical documentation of server protocols was just dandy: The companies say they have successfully used that documentation to develop and release interoperable software products to the marketplace. [...]

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