Competition fine rebuff for Microsoft

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Competition fine rebuff for Microsoft

Competition fine rebuff for Microsoft
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Microsoft has lost an appeal against a massive EU fine over its breaking of anti-competition rules.

That verdict should be the last hurrah in a decade-long battle between the European Commission and the US software giant over its business practices.

The ruling by the General Court, Europe’s second-highest, could strengthen the European Commission’s hand in ongoing cases against Google, Samsung and Motorola Mobility related to their patents.

The consolation prize for Microsoft, the court reduced the fine from 899 million euros to 860 million.

The case focused on Microsoft’s failure to make programming code available to allow its competitors’ products to connect properly with its server software.

Microsoft expressed disappointment at the verdict but did not say if it would appeal to the EU Court of Justice, Europe’s highest.

“Although the General Court slightly reduced the fine, we are disappointed with the court’s ruling,” the company said in a statement.

The Commission welcomed the court ruling.

“The judgement confirms that the imposition of such penalty payments remains an important tool at the Commission’s disposal,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who enforces such regulations, said in a statement.

Big companies on the Commission’s radar should take note of the court ruling, said Michael Reynolds, a partner at Allen & Overy. The law firm represented Sun Microsystems, whose original complaint triggered the EU probe.

“Dominant companies such as Google will take notice of this in the way they handle their case and how they come to a settlement,” he said.