EU judge calls meeting in Microsoft case

The judge deciding whether to suspend EU sanctions against Microsoft for monopolistic practices has called a meeting tomorrow to...

The judge deciding whether to suspend EU sanctions against Microsoft for monopolistic practices has called a meeting tomorrow to determine how the case should proceed following the withdrawal of two of its major participants.

Bruce Lowry, a spokesman with Novell, one of the companies that has withdrawn from the case, said, "The judge called a meeting and invited all parties to the EU action to attend in order to discuss procedural matters having to do with the withdrawal of the CCIA and Novell."

Novell and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a US industry body, had been participating in the European Commission's case against Microsoft, but the two companies settled their monopoly claims earlier this month and withdrew from the case, leaving RealNetworks as the only company with a broad complaint in the matter.

Other industry organisations, including the Free Software Foundation, still remain involved in the case.

Tomorrow's meeting has been called to determine whether testimony from Novell and the CCIA should be removed from the case. There is no suggestion that the commission will drop the sanctions at this stage.

In March, the commission's five-year investigation into Microsoft concluded that the US creator of Windows had abused its dominance in the PC OS market, giving it an unfair advantage over rivals like RealNeworks and Novell.

The commission imposed a €497m (£348m) fine and ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without its Windows Media Player software. It also ordered Microsoft to open up parts of its Windows code so that rivals could build competing products.

Microsoft appealed against the ruling to the European Court, which is examining whether to suspend some or all of the sanctions or to deny Microsoft's appeal.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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