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South Korea court rules against Microsoft in antitrust suit

[JURIST] A South Korean court ruled Thursday that Microsoft [corporate website] violated antitrust regulations by packaging software with the Windows operating system, but dismissed requests for damages from two Korean software firms. The suit alleged [Yonhap News report] that the company's packaging of MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player with their operating system caused financial damage to competitors Digito.com and Sanview Technology, Inc [corporate websites, in Korean]. The Seoul District Court acknowledged that such conduct was an antitrust violation and an abuse of a dominant market position but ultimately dismissed the multi-million dollar claims on the grounds that the damages were not sufficiently linked to Microsoft's conduct. The court held that the claimants' lost market share was a result of price competitiveness or a failure to properly market overseas.

Microsoft has frequently faced antitrust and unfair competition claims. In February, Google [corporate website] sought to join a European Commission (EC) [official website] antitrust suit against Microsoft that accused the company of hindering competition. Google's actions followed an EC issuance of a Statement of Objections (SO) [press release] to Microsoft, alleging that the software company violated an EC Treaty provision [Article 82 text] that prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position by bundling its Internet Explorer web browser with the Windows operating system. The SO was based on legal principles confirmed in a 2004 European Commission action [materials; JURIST report] against Microsoft that directed the company to unbundle its media player from the operating system. That landmark ruling required Microsoft to share technical information with competitors and lower its prices, but Microsoft failed to comply with the judgment and the EC assessed a record fine [JURIST report] of €899 million ($1.3 billion). In May 2008, Microsoft filed an appeal [JURIST report] with the European Court of First Instance [official website], seeking to annul the fine. In response to the European decision and other judgments, Microsoft has instituted an Antitrust Compliance Committee [official website].

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