Microsoft lost its bid to overturn a 2008 antitrust fine in Europe this morning, as the General Court of the European Union largely upheld the European Commission’s decision to impose a penalty of more than $1 billion against the company.
Read the court’s statement summarizing its decision here: PDF
The timing highlights the struggle of courts and regulators to keep up with the pace of the tech industry. Microsoft, which in the meantime paid the fine and reached a broader antitrust agreement with the commission, earlier this year filed its own complaint in Europe against Motorola and Google over the issue of licensing fees for patents.
The long-running court battle between Microsoft and the European Commission centered around the rates that Microsoft was seeking to charge competitors for information needed to make their products work more effectively with Windows. The commission contended that Microsoft dragged its feet and set the rates too high.
The court today reduced the fine slightly based on a miscalculation but said it “rejects all the arguments put forward by Microsoft in support of annulment.”
Microsoft said in a statement, “Although the General Court slightly reduced the fine, we are disappointed with the Court’s ruling. The fine, which was paid several years ago, related to the price Microsoft had proposed for one of several forms of licenses for technology Microsoft was required to make available by the Commission’s 2004 Decision. In 2009 Microsoft entered into a broad understanding with the Commission that resolved its competition law concerns.”
The company isn’t saying whether it plans to appeal.
In its own statement, the European Commission said the court’s ruling “confirms that non-compliance with an antitrust decision constitutes serious misconduct which the Commission is entitled to sanction in order to compel compliance.”