The European Commission has issued a decision easing the monitoring of Microsoft’s compliance with the Commission’s 2004 Decision that Microsoft abused its dominant position.

In 2004 the Commission imposed a fine on the US software giant for infringing Article 82 of the EC Treaty by refusing to provide interoperability information, among other things. The Commission’s Decision also required an independent full-time monitoring trustee to verify whether Microsoft was complying with the obligation to provide complete and accurate interoperability information.

Microsoft subsequently lodged an application with the Court of First Instance (CFI) for the annulment of the Decision. Microsoft was largely unsuccessful in its application, however the CFI did annul the obligation to bear the costs concerning the appointment and remuneration of the monitoring trustee.

Given the changes subsequently implemented by Microsoft and the increased possibilities for third parties to sue directly before national courts as a result of modified private enforcement provisions in Microsoft’s licence agreements, the Commission no longer requires this full-time monitoring. Instead, in the future, the Commission intends to rely on the ad hoc assistance of technical consultants.