Antitrust Law

EU Slams Microsoft: Record $1.35B Fine

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Updated: An executive arm of the European Union has fined Microsoft Corp. a record $1.35 billion for failing to cooperate with a 2004 antitrust decision. It required the company to provide information that would have allowed rival developers of work group software to interface their wares with Windows-based computer networks.

Microsoft is the only company in 50 years that the European Commission has fined for failing to comply with an antitrust decision, reports Reuters. And this is not the first time the EC has done so.

The fine dwarfs an initial EC penalty of 497 million euros (about $752 million in today’s dollars) that the competition watchdog imposed in 2004, when the EC ordered Microsoft “to open some key software to rivals so they could make compatible products,” writes Agence France-Presse. Another 280 million euro fine (about $424 million) was imposed in July 2006, when the commission determined Microsoft wasn’t complying with its ruling.

“Talk is cheap, flouting the rules is expensive,” says Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes in a written statement announcing today’s fine. “We don’t want talk and promises. We want compliance.”

Microsoft said in its own statement that this fine and a previous one are related to “past issues,” and it is now focusing on the future.

Additional coverage:

Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): “EU Fines Microsoft $1.35 Billion For Failure to Comply with Ruling”

Bloomberg: “Microsoft Fined Record EU899 Million by EU Regulator”

Forbes: “Q&A: Microsoft’s Multi-Billion Dollar EU Fine”

Guardian Unlimited: “European commission fines Microsoft record £680m”

Updated at 12:23 p.m.

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