At a closed-door hearing in Brussels, Microsoft has said 12,000 pages of documentation and good will should save it from two-million-euro per day antitrust fines proposed by the European Commission. The competition regulators have repeatedly said that the information the U.S. software giant provided to competitors was not enough to level out the playing field in the sector, as required by a 2004 EU ruling.
Microsoft’s top lawyer, Brad Smith, and U.S. diplomats urged Brussels to treat the company fairly:
“I will say that I thought we had a very constructive
dialogue yesterday. I only wish we could have had that kind of dialogue sooner. But as we start the second day, I am more optimistic than when I arrived yesterday that this type of constructive dialogue can in fact lead to a real solution.”
Lawyers not involved in the case say hearings like this one are generally theatre pieces with a foregone conclusion.
(“The typical experience with hearings is that they are set piece theatre,” said Chris Bright, a competition lawyer not involved in the case. “You have a sense this is really a foregone conclusion and they’re just going through the motions.”)
A lawyer for other industry players said everybody who has looked at it, other than Microsoft, says the company’s offer was not good enough.
The Commission said it will decide whether to proceed with or drop the fines within several weeks.