Microsoft fined by EU for $ 2.5 billion in the last four years

The Kassandra Project

The fine is the largest ever for a single company

Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 15:49 GMT, BBC wrote:

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates

Microsoft is to appeal against the EU’s decisi

Software giant Microsoft must pay a fine of 497m euros ($613m; £331m) for abusing its dominant market position, the European Commission has ordered. Competition Commissioner Mario Monti also insisted Microsoft must reveal secrets of its Windows software, which sits on 90% of the world’s PCs.

The European Commission approved Microsoft’s punishment on Wednesday.

Microsoft has already said it will appeal, kicking off a legal battle that could last years.

Mr Monti said he was confident “that we have produced here a decision that will stand before any appeal”.

Microsoft has a cash pile of more than $50bn, so even a fine on this scale – a record for the EU against a single firm in an antitrust case – is unlikely to hurt it commercially.

In fact, the company’s shares climbed 0.6% to $24.29 in New York during early trading.

The Associated Press February 27, 2008, 6:53AM ET, wrote:

By AOIFE WHITE, BRUSSELS, Belgium

The European Union fined Microsoft Corp. a record $1.3 billion Wednesday for the amount it charges rivals for software information.

EU regulators said the company charged “unreasonable prices” until last October to software developers who wanted to make products compatible with the Windows desktop operating system.

The fine is the largest ever for a single company and brings to just under $2.5 billion the amount the EU has demanded Microsoft pay in a long-running antitrust dispute.

Microsoft immediately said the issues for which it was fined have been resolved and the company was making its products more open.

The fine comes less that a week after Microsoft said it would share more information about its products and technology in an effort to make it work better with rivals’ software and meet the demands of antitrust regulators in Europe.

But EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes remained skeptical and said Microsoft was under investigation in two additional cases.

“Talk is cheap,” Kroes said. “Flouting the rules is expensive.”

Microsoft’s actions have stifled innovation and affected millions of people around the world, Kroes said. She called the record 899 million euro fine “a reasonable response to a series of quite unreasonable actions.”

“We could have gone as high as 1.5 billion euros ($2.23 billion),” she said. “The maximum amount is higher than what we did at the end of the day.”

Microsoft fought hard against a March 2004 decision that led to a 497 million euro ($613 million) fine and an order that the software maker share interoperability information with rivals within 120 days. The company lost its appeal in that case in September.

Microsoft was fined $357 million in July 2006 for failing to obey that order.

The EU alleged that Microsoft withheld crucial interoperability information for desktop PC software — where it is the world’s leading supplier — in an effort squeeze into a new market and damage rivals.

The company delayed compliance for three years, the EU said, only making changes in October to the patent licenses for companies that need data to create software that works with Microsoft.

Microsoft had initially set a royalty rate of 3.87 percent of a licensee’s product revenues for patents and demanded that companies looking for communication information — which it said was highly secret — pay 2.98 percent of their products’ revenues.

The EU complained last March that the rates were unfair. Under threat of fines, Microsoft two months later reduced the patent rate to 0.7 percent and the information license to 0.5 percent — but only in Europe, leaving the worldwide rates unchanged.

The EU’s Court of First Instance ruling that upheld regulators’ views changed the company’s mind again in October when it offered a new license for interoperability information for a flat fee of 10,000 euros ($14,900) and an optional worldwide patent license for a reduced royalty of 0.4 percent.

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