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Friday, November 26, 2004
EU sets date for Microsoft appeal

The European Union's second-highest court will rule in mid-December on an appeal by US software giant Microsoft to suspend EU sanctions.

Judge Bo Vesterdorf will decide by 20 December on whether to suspend a $646m (342m) fine and order for Microsoft to change its business practices.

The European Commission ruled in March that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position.

The sanctions have been suspended until the outcome of the appeal.

Judge Vesterdorf of the Court of First Instance met Microsoft executives and officials from the European Commission earlier in the day.

They decided to keep on record testimony from two of the EC's biggest backers, who have dropped out of the anti-trust case after receiving multimillion out-of-court settlements from Microsoft.

"All the parties in the meeting agreed, as Microsoft has always maintained, that CCIA [Computer and Communications Industry Association] and Novell's past testimony should remain on the record," Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes said.

To date, Microsoft has settled with four out of its five major opponents in the appeal case, having previously spent $2.4bn settling claims with TimeWarner and Sun Microsystems.

RealNetworks, which makes a software product competing with Microsoft's Media Player for playing sound and video on a PC, is to carry on fighting the case.

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