Microsoft seeks US court intervention in EU

Microsoft Corp. Friday asked three U.S. courts to force Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracle Corp., IBM Corp. and Novell Inc. to produce documents pertaining to the European Union’s (EU’s) antitrust case against the software vendor.

According to court papers filed in U.S. District Courts in New York, California and Massachusetts, Microsoft wants to see all documents containing correspondence the companies had with the European Commission (EC), as well as the “Monitoring Trustee” and the OTR, the EC’s technical advisory committee in the case. The EC is the executive branch of the EU.

Based on some documents the EC has already provided, Microsoft said it believes the EC had secret meetings with the technology vendors named in Friday’s court papers, and that it needs access to any documents about those meetings in order to defend itself.

The Redmond, Washington, company on Thursday also filed a supplemental response to the EC’s Statement of Objections — the formal complaints against the vendor in the case — to express its concern with its lack of access to documentation about these communications. Microsoft’s supplemental response can be found online at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/legalnews.mspx

Last week in an unprecedented move, Microsoft posted its original response to the Statement of Objections, filed on Feb. 15, on its Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/legal/02-23-06ResponsetoECSO.mspx

In a statement, Horacio Gutierrez, a Microsoft associate general counsel, reiterated the company’s concerns about what it considers to be unfair treatment by the EC in providing the company access to important documents in the case.

“Our repeated requests to the European Commission for full and fair file access have not been successful, so we are now turning to the U.S. courts for assistance in obtaining relevant communications between our U.S. competitors and the Commission, the technical experts it relies on and the Trustee,” he said.

The EC could not be reached for immediate comment on Friday.

Microsoft could face daily fines of up to €2 million (US$2.4 million per day) if the EC finds that the company has not complied with provisions in its March 2004 antitrust decision.

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