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Microsoft Appeal against EU Court Ruling May Be Hard

CNBC.com
Monday, 17 Sep 2007 | 10:37 AM ET

Microsoft may find it hard to appeal a landmark decision from the European Union Court of First Instance to uphold a European Commission anti-trust fine, because it sets important precedents for EU competition issues, officials said Monday.

"Microsoft can appeal, but I suspect it would have difficulties in appealing this judgment," Thomas Vinje, partner at Clifford Chance and spokesman of the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), a Commission ally, told "Worldwide Exchange."

The victory establishes the EU's ability to intervene in anti-trust violations in the future and expect success, Vinje said, adding that he doesn't think "we will see the commission going on any sort of rampage."

A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment on whether the software giant will appeal the decision, the Associated Press reported.

"I don't want to talk about what will come next," Microsoft lawyer Brad Smith told the AP. "We need to read the ruling before we make any decision."

Despite the relatively small sum Microsoft was fined, $689.9 million, the decision is considered key due to the strategic importance of the media-streaming technology.

"It's a good day for consumers, a good day for business, a good day for innovation in the IT sector," Vinje said.

However, the anti-competitive damage may have already been done, Vinje points out. "Microsoft has conquered the media streaming market (and) the behavior that the commission condemned has led to Microsoft dominating that market."

But, he added, the ruling could act as a warning sign to similar practices in the sector.

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