Microsoft slates Commission over protracted antitrust battle

Microsoft’s main UK lawyer has lashed out at the European Commission, just weeks before the regulator is due to decide if it will impose hefty fines on the technology company.

Chris Parker, the software giant’s director of law and corporate affairs, told The Lawyer that the Commission had taken action that was of little benefit to the consumer.

He said the regulator seemed preoccupied with having a “head on a spike”.

“The whole thing has been too slow and too lacking in focus,” he said. “This is the eighth year of this case and the lawyers have been the only ones to benefit from it. We’re very keen to settle this case.”

In December last year, European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes found Microsoft had supplied incomplete and inaccurate information about its Windows operating system.

Microsoft is facing fines of up to E2m (£1.4m) per day if it is found to have delayed its compliance with its antitrust ruling of 2004.

The company’s US counsel Sullivan & Cromwell has advised throughout the case, but it has employed a small army of supporting legal advisers, including White & Case and Brussels firm Van Bael & Bellis.

Parker said the regulator continually moved the goalposts. “We’ve tried to comply with the Commission’s demands and produce the information, but the Commission left us to our own devices,” he said. “We’ve had very little contact at all with the Commission’s trustee.

“The other half of the case regarding the Windows media player was a cure for no known disease,” he continued. “We were required to produce a new product without the media player and there were virtually no sales. The media player can be downloaded for free.”