Microsoft lawyers slam ‘endless’ EC antitrust case

Microsoft lawyers have slammed the European Commission for charging the conglomerate with failing to comply with its antitrust ruling of 2004, complaining the competition regulator has continued to move the goalposts.

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes found Microsoft had supplied incomplete and inaccurate information about its Windows operating system.

A source close to the case told The Lawyer the regulator’s decision was unjustified.

“It’s endless,” he said. “Microsoft has tried to comply with the Commission’s increasingly complex demands, but every time they submit something new, the Commission says it’s not good enough. The demands are so technical, that even the lawyers struggle to understand them.”

It was the first time the EU competition regulator has charged a company with failing to comply with one of its rulings.

Microsoft’s US counsel Sullivan & Cromwell has advised throughout the case, but the conglomerate also employed a small army of secondary legal advisers.

White & Case‘s Ian Forrester represented Microsoft in the long-running case, along with Brussels-based Van Bael & Bellis name partner Jean-Francois Bellis and Covington & Burling Brussels managing partner David Harfst.

The move is more bad news for Microsoft, which has had a legally binding precedent against it in Europe since the Commission’s ruling in 2004 – something it has managed to avoid in the US.

In March 2004, the Commission found that Microsoft broke EU competition rules by abusing its dominant position in the market for computer operating systems and also imposed a record €497m fine.

The Lawyer contacted the firms involved in the case but no one was available for comment.