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Thursday, April 09, 2009
Bundeskartellamt Imposes Fine Against Microsoft

The Bundeskartellamt has imposed a fine of €9 million on Microsoft Deutschland GmbH.

The main task of Bundeskartellamt organization is to apply the Act against Restraints of Competition (ARC), which was enacted for the protection of competition and came into force on 1 January 1958.

According to the German organization, Microsoft had influenced the resale price of the software package "Office Home & Student 2007" in an anticompetitive manner.

The product in question was heavily advertised in the autumn of 2008 in stationary retail outlets. Amongst others, a German retailer advertised the product with financial support from Microsoft. Even before the launch of the advertising campaign in mid-October 2008, employees of Microsoft and the retailer in question had agreed on at least two occasions on the resale price of the software package "Office Home & Student 2007".

"Not every contact between supplier and retailer regarding resale prices constitutes an illegal concerted practice within the meaning of Section 1 ARC, Bundeskartellamt said. "However, this must not lead to a form of coordination where the supplier actively tries to coordinate the pricing activities of the retailer and thus retailer and supplier agree on future actions of the retailer," the organization added.

Microsoft has accepted the fine.

The Bundeskartellamt takes action against all restraints of competition which have effects in the Federal Republic of Germany. Its tasks include enforcing the ban on cartels, merger control and abuse control.

It is also the competent authority for all tasks assigned to the Member States of the European Union by the competition rules of the EC Treaty.

Since 1 January 1999 the Bundeskartellamt also monitors the award of public contracts, a task which is undertaken by the federal public procurement tribunals which are located at the Bundeskartellamt.

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