EU imposes landmark fine on Microsoft for non-compliance with antitrust ruling
EU imposes landmark fine on Microsoft for non-compliance with antitrust ruling

[JURIST] European Commission [official website] antitrust regulators imposed a $357 million fine on Microsoft [corporate website; JURIST news archive] Wednesday for not complying with a 2004 European Union antitrust ruling [text, PDF; JURIST report]. Early in July, the EC approved in principle [JURIST report] new fines against Microsoft, after it warned [JURIST report] last December that Microsoft may face fines of up to $2.5 million per day for not giving competitors the necessary information to develop software compatible with the Windows operating system. The $357 million fine is in addition to the initial $613 million penalty levied by the European Commission in 2004. If Microsoft fails to comply with the 2004 decision by July 31, additional fines could be imposed.

Microsoft officials said Wednesday that the company has made every effort to comply with the 2004 order. In a statement [press release], Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith responded to the penalty:

We have great respect for the Commission and this process, but we do not believe any fine, let alone a fine of this magnitude, is appropriate given the lack of clarity in the Commission's original decision and our good-faith efforts over the past two years. We will ask the European courts to determine whether our compliance efforts have been sufficient and whether the Commission’s unprecedented fine is justified…

The fine announced today is larger than the fines the Commission has imposed for even the most severe competition law infringements, such as price-fixing cartels. When you consider Microsoft's massive efforts to comply with this ruling, and the fact that more than a dozen companies are already using similar documentation provided in the U.S. to ship actual products, we do not believe this fine is justified.

Microsoft will appeal the fine [Reuters report] to the European Court of First Instance [official website]. Reuters has more.