Coudert partner in Microsoft defection

Coudert Brothers has lost a Brussels competition partner to Microsoft

Jean-Yves Art has moved in-house to take up the the top competition role at the software giant outside the US.

Art has joined as director of competition for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but the European remit will throw up the majority of competition issues for Microsoft.

Although Microsoft’s US competition problems have diminished with the settlement of the federal case against it, the technology giant is still in hot water in Europe. The company is under investigation by the European Commission for abuse of its dominant position.

Art will handle the management of all future antitrust issues and litigation, but ongoing matters such as the abuse of dominance case will remain with other lawyers.

He will also handle compliance within the company and relationships with external competition lawyers and competition authorities.

“Microsoft has to act as a responsible market player,” commented Art.

Traditionally, Microsoft has strong relationships in Europe with its US adviser Sullivan & Cromwell, competition boutique Van Bael & Bellis and the London office of magic circle firm Linklaters. All three firms are advising on the abuse of dominance case. It is not expected that any will be replaced, although Art did not rule out instructing other firms.

Art was one of four competition partners in Coudert’s Brussels office. A partner at his former firm Stephen Spinks said: “We haven’t contemplated replacing [Art] with a lateral. We have very good associates here.”