It won't have escaped anyone that Microsoft has lost its appeal of the European Commission's 2004 decision that the technology giant has abused its dominant position.
The Court of First Instance confirmed the conclusion that Microsoft is required to offer a version of its Windows operating system without Windows Media Player and that it is required to disclose interoperability information and must pay a fine of euro 497 million. The one point on which the court did not agree with the Commission was in relation to the appointment of a trustee to monitor Microsoft's compliance with the decision. The trustee was to have access, independently of the Commission, to certain information, premises and cooperation by Microsoft, at a cost to be picked up by Microsoft. The court ruled that there was no legal basis in Community law for the Commission to order Microsoft to subject itself to this obligation.
John Schmidt, Shepherd and Wedderburn Competition Partner comments, "Microsoft is one of the biggest court cases in the antitrust arena in Europe and is a watershed for the Commission. It has in the past suffered a number of painful defeats in the European courts and the fact that the court has upheld the Commission's decision in all key areas significantly boosts the Commission's standing. The decision itself, has not, however, changed the law in Europe. The court confirmed not only the Commission's relatively wide margin of appreciation (provided they follow due process). Otherwise it adhered to its past case law in abuse cases. The ruling is also timely, as the US authorities are being criticised for not doing enough to counter abuses of dominance."