EU To Slap Microsoft For Second Antitrust Abuse

The European Union plans to file a second formal charge against Microsoft for allegedly overcharging for server interoperability licenses, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire service reported.

May 12, 2006

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The European Union plans to file a second formal charge against Microsoft accusing the U.S. operating system developer of violating a 2004 antitrust ruling, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire service reported Thursday.

Sources have told the AFP that the EU's Competition Commission will soon file a "statement of objections" claiming that Microsoft is charging too much for protocol licenses that the EU has ruled competitors need in order to develop interoperable software.

By the terms of the 2004 ruling -- in which Microsoft was fined a record 497 euros ($639 million) -- it was required to ensure that the information necessary for interoperability was "accessible to third parties under reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions."

According to the AFP's source, the commission, led by Dutchwoman Neelie Kroes, believes Microsoft is overcharging for these licenses, and will file an objection as early as July.

Microsoft's already facing one statement of objection, which the commission filed in December 2005, alleging that the company wasn't adequately documenting the protocols. It also slapped Microsoft with a 2 million euro ($2.6 million) per day fine.In late March, Microsoft and the commission squared off in a two-day hearing over the December objection and its fine, but a ruling may be months off.

A month later, Microsoft and the commission again faced each other, this time in an EU court, over the legitimacy of the 2004 ruling.

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