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Brussels ready for new sanctions against Microsoft

Brussels ready for new sanctions against Microsoft

Brussels – A new challenge has been addressed by the European Commission to Microsoft, a statement that goes into unexplored territories and that threatens to result in a 3 million euro a day fine for the Redmond big. The fact that, according to the Community authorities, the softwarehouse does not intend to comply with the dictates of the European antitrust, is accused of asking royalties from its competitors for access to new protocols which, according to the Commission they are not innovative enough to request payment of a fee.

In a statement of objection that sounds like an ultimatum to Microsoft, the Commission argues that there is no “significant innovation” in the company’s information designed to ensure rivals can build software that is perfectly interoperable with Windows. Then rejected to the sender 1,500 pages of documentation provided by Microsoft over the past three months, a rejection seasoned by the assertion that the license requested by the company for access to its protocols, given the “lack of innovation”, cannot be subject to payment.

BetaNews deepens by explaining that the protocols under accusation are those referred to patented technologies , that is, those for which Microsoft asks for the subscription of a license with a consideration for each application made on the basis of that data or a percentage of the profits that derive from this. According to the European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, “Microsoft has already accepted that the justification for the payment is linked to the innovation constituted by the new protocols. Our idea is that there is no significant innovation in the protocols, and I am therefore forced to take action to ensure that Microsoft fulfills its obligations ”.

As reported by the Washington Post, in a note Microsoft stated that it considers the payment requested fair and expressed all its surprise at the Commission’s sortie: “It is difficult to understand how the Commission can argue that even the patented innovation should be made available for free. “.

Not only that: Microsoft points out that those prices were determined by an audit by PriceWaterhouseCooper which resulted in a drop of up to 30 percent less than current market prices. The Register also highlights how the company has never stopped negotiating with interested parties on the pricing front.

One of the lawyers of the Redmond big also pointed out that Microsoft had asked the Commission for an opinion on that documentation a year and a half ago. “We are sorry – noted Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith – that this feedback arrives six months late and in its current form but we are willing to work hard to respond to the Statement”. According to him, the intervention of the Commission it is exceptional : “The position (from Brussels, ed.) Seems to be an attempt to regulate the price of our intellectual property rights on a global basis”. He fears that the Commission’s position may also be imitated by other international bodies, with cascading consequences for the entire industry.

As the Commission itself explains, Microsoft now has four weeks to respond to the Statement of the Community authorities, after that date Brussels will take its final decision which could lead, as mentioned, to a fine of 3 million euros per day . “It is the first time – said a spokesman for the Commission – that we are confronted with a company that has not respected an antitrust decision. We are in a completely unexplored territory “.