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April 26, 2006

Microsoft at the EU Court of First Instance Days Two And Three

Day Two continued on the use of the Media Player as a bundled application.  Irish Judge John D. Cooke questioned the EU Commission lawyers on the viability of the remedy.  He seemed to lean to a similar remedy concluded in the United States where the player could be hidden or removed.  The Commission lawyers argued that was not good enough.

Day three shifted from tying the Media Player to the operating system to the issue of whether Microsoft was providing enough information to competitors that let them create software that was interoperable with Windows.  In typical Microsoft fashion, the company attorneys tried to shift the focus of the hearing by reshaping the issues more favorable to the company.  They did this in the four federal discovery cases leading up to the hearing where they represented the Commission could not get documents from competitors.  In reality, the Commission had the documents and wouldn't give them to Microsoft.  Different judges issued scathing opinions noting how Microsoft misrepresented the situation and had an easy time turning down the company.  In fairness, Microsoft was more likely trying to be innovative with legal precedent and the meaning of laws.  Innovation is their mantra after all.

The practice seems to continue at the Court of First Instance where the company complains that it must give up valuable intellectual property to comply with the Commission order.  There's plenty of competition out there, claims the company with 90% plus of the OS market.  Judge Bo Vesterdorf told the company to stick to the issue at hand.

The EU Commission stuck to their view of the issue in that Microsoft abused its monopoly position by refusing to supply certain information to competitors that is normally supplied in industry practice.  Lawyers for an industry group supporting the Commission noted that Microsoft was blowing up the patent/IP issue and downplaying the monopoly power issue.  Again, an innovative argument for Microsoft.

There are two more days of this stuff.  A decision is not expected for about a year, glacial in terms of how the tech industry moves, but not the justice industry.

The stories are in the Washington Post, the Register, the Boston Globe, and the Times of London.

April 26, 2006 | Permalink

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