Microsoft efforts fail to prevent further EU fines

An exasperated Microsoft is edging closer to fines of e2m (£1.4m) a day for breaking EU competition rules, despite following the European Commission’s plan for compliance.

The Commission’s antitrust directorate has reportedly drafted a ruling finding the software giant guilty of failing to implement changes from the the EU’s 2004 decision, when it was found in breach of competition rules.

But in April this year, Microsoft agreed a timeline with the Commission’s technical trustee to reveal information about its products and so comply with the ruling. The company has around 300 engineers working full time on the process and is so far on time.

Horacio Gutierrez, associate general counsel for Microsoft in Europe, said the company had done everything in its power to comply with Commission guidelines. “Microsoft has committed massive resources to the technical documentation programme and has already delivered five of seven instalments to the agreed specification and according to the agreed work plan,” he said.

He added: “Microsoft has complied fully with every instruction given by the Commission and the trustee. Any fine would be unjustified and unnecessary.”

Microsoft has named the timeline’s seven milestones after London Underground stations. It has two stages to complete, Edgware on 30 June and Paddington on 18 July.

In March 2004, the EU fined Microsoft e497m (£343.7m). At the end of 2005, it was told it still was in breach of the rules, but by April had agreed an appropriate plan of action with the Commission’s trustee, Neil Barratt.

Microsoft’s US counsel Sullivan & Cromwell has advised throughout the case, along with White & Case and Brussels competition firm Van Bael & Bellis. Covington & Burling is assisting with Microsoft’s compliance plans.