Microsoft asks court for EU remedy delay

Microsoft is expected to ask the European Union's Court of First Instance to delay the commission's remedy rulings against the...

Microsoft is expected to ask the European Union's Court of First Instance to delay the commission's remedy rulings against the company from taking immediate effect.

The software company has been fighting the March ruling by the commission that Microsoft violated competition law by using its dominance in the PC operating system market to gain advantage in the markets for media players and work group server operating systems.

The commission fined Microsoft €497m (£330m), but it is widely accepted that Microsoft is less concerned about the fine than the commission's measures for increasing competition that it laid out in a 302-page ruling in April.

In the ruling, the commission granted Microsoft 90 days before it has to begin selling a version of its Windows operating system in Europe without Media Player, the company's audio and video playing software, and 120 days in which it must reveal enough Windows code to allow rivals to build competing server software that can work properly with Windows.

Earlier this month, Microsoft filed a 100-page appeal brief, requesting that court's president Bo Vesterdorf issue a interlocutory order to suspend the commission remedies until the court decided whether to affirm or annul the decision - a process that is expected to take between three to five years.

The interlocutory order from the court can come as soon as next week, but can in turn be appealed to the president of the Court of Justice. The interlocutory order will have no bearing on the merits of the case, which must be assessed by a panel of courts judges.

Microsoft critics have warned that should the company be granted its stay request, it could delay the commission's enforcement of its ruling long enough to allow Microsoft to establish its dominance in the media player market as well as the server software market, giving Microsoft a de facto victory in its legal battle with the commission.

Should the president turn down Microsoft's request to suspend the remedies until after the appeal, it will force the company to change the way it does business in Europe almost immediately.

Last April in a paper outlining its position, Microsoft contended that the commission's decision - believed by lawyers to be one of the most carefully formulated decisions in its history - in effect creates new law that could have far-reaching negative consequences in the area of intellectual property rights and on the ability of dominant firms to innovate.

Laura Rohde writes for IDG News service

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