Microsoft Corp. has asked for more time to respond to the EU Commission’s objections in an antitrust case against it, a letter from the U.S. software giant’s lawyers showed on Thursday.
The Commission gave Microsoft until Feb. 15 to answer to its objections against the non-compliance. After that date, the EU executive would have to make another decision, taking into account Microsoft’s response, in order to carry out the fine.
But Microsoft lawyers complained in the letter to the case’s hearing officer that they lacked enough access to documents to respond by the deadline.
“It would be appropriate to grant Microsoft a further extension of time in which to prepare its defence since Microsoft should have access to the missing documents in due time,” the letter, seen by Reuters, said.
Commission competition spokesman Jonathan Todd said a decision on such an extension would be up to the hearing officer in the case, who is independent of the Commission.
And what are these missing documents? The AP says Microsoft Claims EU Is Holding Back Data:
Microsoft Corp. claims that EU regulators are unfairly holding back documents needed to defend itself against antitrust charges, according to a letter its lawyer sent to the European Commission this week.
Microsoft has until Feb. 15 to make a written reply, but says it has not yet seen the documents that explain how the Commission came to its decision.
“All Microsoft is asking for is access to our file,” said Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes. “This is a basic question of fairness and transparency.”
EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said Microsoft’s request for access is still under discussion. “It is therefore premature for Microsoft to claim that the Commission has prejudiced their rights of defense,” he said.
In the letter, signed by Microsoft’s lawyer Ian S. Forrester, the company said it was told that 71 out of the 100 documents in the Commission’s case file were internal or confidential and could not be shared with Microsoft.
Microsoft wants to see correspondence between the Commission and Microsoft’s rivals, as well as the independent experts the Commission relied on to judge whether the software company was complying with the ruling.
Microsoft said these documents are wrongly classed as confidential, saying it is well aware that the Commission was in contact with Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracle Corp., IBM Corp. and Novell Inc. because all four had asked to license the communications code at the heart of the case.
More legal wrangling to come. It’s rather like a slow tennis match.