June decision on Microsoft’s billion-dollar EU fine

Europe’s second-highest court will rule next month on whether EU regulators were justified in fining Microsoft 899 million euros ($1.1 billion) four years ago, for failing to comply with an antitrust ruling intended to make business easier for its rivals.

June decision on Microsoft's billion-dollar EU fine

The European Commission imposed the fine – a record at the time – after the US software giant failed to provide information to firms with competing products, as had been ordered by the EU watchdog in 2004. The penalty was the first imposed by the EU regulator for non-compliance with an antitrust decision.

The Luxembourg-based General Court of the European Union will issue its ruling on 27 June.

Microsoft’s lawyers argued during a court hearing in May last year that the fine was excessive and undeserved. A lawyer for the Commission compared the company to a gambler who had lost a bet and then wanted his money back.

The EU executive imposed a 497 million euro fine on Microsoft in 2004 for abusing its dominant position to block competitors.

The case is crucial to other companies challenging big regulatory fines. Intel is set to argue its case before judges from 3-6 July in a bid to overturn its 1.06 billion euro penalty levied by the Commission in 2009.

Intel’s fine is the largest ever in the European Union for a single company. EU regulators said the firm used anti-competitive tactics against smaller rival AMD.

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