EU to Continue Legal Action Against Microsoft
Despite Microsoft Corp.s settlement of two of its major antitrust law suits, the European Union is set to press ahead with its own cases against the software giant.
Although both Novell Inc. and the Computer & Communications Industry Association agreed Monday to withdraw their support for the EU action, it appears that the EU will continue with its action against Microsoft.
Amelia Torres, spokesperson for the European Commissions competition commissioner Mario Monti, said the settlements "changed nothing. [They] do not alter the necessity for immediate implementation of the [EU] remedies, in other to restore effective competition in the market."
Microsofts appeal against the record fine of 497 million euros (about $642 million) imposed on it by the EU is currently being heard by the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg. In addition, the EU ordered that the company ship a version of Windows without Windows Media Player. Microsoft has asked the court to set aside the judgement, and also to suspend the implementation of the proposed remedies until the court has ruled on the larger issue.
Although Torres acknowledged that both Novell and the CCIA were within their rights to withdraw from the case, this "does not change the facts before the court."
The decision leaves RealNetworks Inc. as the only major company backing the EU action, after Microsoft settled with Sun Microsystems Inc. in April. However, it appears that even if Real were to withdraw from the case, the Commission would continue with it. "Antitrust enforcement by the Commission does not depend on complaints by individual parties, but is geared towards protecting the interests of consumers," said Torres.
The Court is expected to rule on the suspension of the remedies proposed by the Commission within the next few months. However, the overall appeal case is likely to take many years, with some commentators speculating on a final judgement sometime in 2008 or 2009.
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