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Court of First Instance issues a judgement in Microsoft case

On the 17th September 2007, the CFI issued a judgement in which it partly confirmed and partly annulled Commission’s decision of 2004 in Microsoft case. The case involved accusations of the abuse of dominant position by Microsoft in the PC operating system market by refusing to disclose interoperability information that would enable its competitors to fully interoperate with Windows PCs and servers and by tying Windows Media Player with its dominant Windows PC operating system. The history of the case and Commission’s materials on it are found at http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/antitrust/cases/microsoft/
The fine imposed by the Commission – 497 million Euro – was also confirmed by the CFI.
The judgement is rather extensive and will be commented upon in more detail later. But it can be roughly summarized as follows:
The CFI confirmed that refusal to allow interoperability and bundling reduce competition in the relevant markets, thereby preventing innovation and choice to the substantial detriment of consumers. In this respect, legal tests applied by the Commission were upheld by the CFI. The decision concerning interoperability focused on the promotion of interoperability, which contributes to innovation and competition in the software industry whilst also fully recognizing the importance of intellectual property rights as incentives for innovation.
On the other hand, the CFI annulled Commission’s order that Microsoft must submit a proposal for the appointment of the monitoring trustee with the power to have access, independently of the Commission, to Microsoft’s assistance, information, documents, premises and employees and to the source code of the relevant Microsoft products.
The case should be seen in light of a superdominant position of Microsoft, with market power of the scope hard to match.

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