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Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Tech group to join EU against Microsoft

Nokia, Oracle and IBM has joined forces with the European Commission in its antitrust battle with Microsoft, the Financial Times says.

The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), a technology and software industry organization, has asked to intervene on the Commission's side as it contests an appeal by the software giant, the newspaper said on Wednesday.

"The involvement of ECIS and its members reflects a continuing and, in fact, growing concern within the technology industry about a wide range of anti-competitive behaviour by Microsoft," the FT quoted ECIS lawyer Thomas Vinje as saying.

In a landmark ruling last year the Commission found Microsoft had abused the near-monopoly of its Windows computer operating system to crush competition. It fined the world's biggest software maker nearly 500 million euros ($640 million) and ordered it to change its business practices.

Microsoft failed to delay the sanctions that ordered it to sell a version of Windows without Windows Media Player and share software data with rivals, but is appealing against the main ruling, even as it puts changes in place ordered by the Commission.

The committee's application to intervene may be rejected because it missed a December court deadline, the FT said.

However, the committee, whose members also include software firms Red Hat and RealNetworks, could still provide legal advice to the Commission, which polices competition in the 25-nation European Union.

Five allies of Microsoft and four of the Commission--a mixture of companies and trade associations--have already won the right to intervene before the EU court in Luxembourg.

Nokia and Microsoft have a checkered history.

The world's biggest mobile phone maker belonged to Microsoft opponent the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)--which withdrew from the antitrust case last year after a $20 million payment by Microsoft.

Then in February Nokia, a long-time customer of Microsoft rival RealNetworks, struck a deal with Microsoft involving the downloading of music onto mobile phones.

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