Microsoft Corp. asked a judge to suspend the European Commission’s antitrust ruling against it on Thursday, arguing that secrets revealed now cannot be retracted.
The software maker made its case during the first day of a two-day public hearing at the Court of First Instance (CFI) in Luxembourg, where the company is waging its battle to appeal a decision that could significantly impact the way in which it does business, a court representative confirmed Thursday.
The hearings at the European Union’s second-highest court are only focused on whether to suspend the antitrust remedies pending appeal. A decision, to come from CFI President Bo Vesterdorf, is not expected to be reached for around two months. It is within Vesterdorf’s purview to suspend just one of the remedies, or both, or to fully deny the request.
After a five-year investigation, the Commission ruled in March that Microsoft had abused its dominance in the PC operating systems market to gain an edge in related markets, such as media players, giving it an unfair advantage over rivals like RealNetworks Inc. It ordered the company to pay a fine of €497 million, or around US$600 million, and offer a version of its Windows operating system in Europe without its Windows Media Player (WMP) software. It also ordered Microsoft to reveal enough Windows code to allow rivals to build competing server software that works with Windows.
The Commission’s decision is seen as being far stiffer than the settlement the Redmond, Washington, company reached with U.S. antitrust authorities in that it effects the way in which Microsoft packages its products together.
The company is arguing that the remedies will hamper the manner in which it offers customers new features, and that significant competition already exists in the market.
Although Microsoft is putting all of its legal firepower behind appealing the decision, it said earlier this week that it has already “spent millions” to be able to comply with the Commission’s demands to change Windows, should it lose its appeal.
The request for a suspension of the remedies is just the beginning of an appeal process that legal experts have estimated could take anywhere from two to five years.
Microsoft’s arguments at the CFI Thursday morning were due to be followed by those of intervening parties in support of the software maker, such as the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).
Commission representatives and intervening parties supporting its case were slated to speak in the afternoon.