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Thursday, October 25, 2007
Microsoft Abandons Remaining EU Court Cases

Microsoft on Wednesday said it has withdrawn its two remaining appeals from European courts, after throwing in the towel in a long-running competition row with the European Commission.

The announcement by the Seattle-based company draws the final curtain on a row with the EU's executive arm which had rumbled on, and occasionally flared, over several years.

"We believe it's important at this stage to focus all of our energies on complying with our legal obligations and strengthening our constructive relationship with the European Commission," Erich Andersen, European General Counsel for Microsoft, said in a statement.

The EU's executive arm announced Monday that Microsoft had agreed to make "substantial changes" to comply with an EU ruling that it was abusing its dominant market position.

Among the changes will be reducing the royalties for interoperability information on its Windows computer programme to a "nominal" one-off payment of 10,000 euros (14,000 dollars) for rival firms.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes hailed that news as a "victory for the consumer."

Last month, the European Court of First Instance confirmed the European Commission's 2004 antitrust finding that Microsoft had used its ubiquitous Windows personal computer operating system to crush rivals in other linked markets, such as media players.

The court backed the Commission's imposition of a record fine of 497 million euros (690 million dollars) on the software giant.

Brussels fined Microsoft a further 280.5 million euros in July 2006 after finding that it was not respecting its original ruling.

Of the last two appeal cases, withdrawn from the EU's Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance, one concerned Microsoft's attempts to annul the 280.5 million euro fine, which the company paid last year.

Microsoft also informed the court registrar Wednesday that the company was discontinuing its legal bid to annul the Commission's order that it license its trade secrets on an open source basis.

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