Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jun 2006 21:15 UTC, submitted by brewin
Legal The European Commission is ready to impose a fine of 2m Euros ($2.5m; £1.4m) a day on Microsoft. The Commission is expected to rule that Microsoft has failed to fully implement its 2004 antitrust decision. Under the ruling, Microsoft had to supply rivals with information about its Windows operating system.
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Hmmm... can you say bully?
by Shadowmane on Tue 27th Jun 2006 23:33 UTC
Member since:

Far be it for me to defend Microsoft, but I think this might be a case of the European Union trying to push an American company around just because they're American. Think about it. If Microsoft has to give away all of the information Europe wants them to, they will be shooting themselves in the foot. What this boils down to is Europe trying to push Microsoft out of Europe. Now that they have the anti-trust ruling, they have something to bully the company with.

Reply Score: -2

GreatBunzinni Member since:

"bully"? Are you nuts? We are talking about a company which hides and refuses to release the information about how the underlying system works. This is the company which uses that information to tie it's own products so deep into the system that not only it's virtually impossible to remove them or turn them off but also hinders the usage of competing products. To make matters worse, this is the company which mocks the European Commission's ruling and blatantly refuses to release what the company was ordered to.

This all makes it too obvious that the European Commission's actions are not bullying but clearly a demand to level up the playing field for every competing company in the world, where the US is included.

Moreover, it is stupid to claim that the European Commission wants Microsoft to leave the EU market. First of all, if that was indeed their objective then instead of fining the company, they could simply order them to leave the EU market. That's what you claim that it's what they want. To make matters worse, why would the European Commission want to force out the established, undisputed and obviously unparalleled supplier of the entire foundation that virtually all of the world's businesses rely on? Let's not even state that it would be impossible to do so. Why would the European Commition want to get rid of a range of products which don't have a viable alternative and are the basis for their entire business infra-structure?

Reply Parent Score: 4

tomcat Member since:

Whether or not MS has released the information necessary for rivals to build compatible software is a highly subjective question -- and the thing that bothers me is that the EU is the sole arbiter of whether MS has met that standard. Has the EU set up a standard that's impossible for MS to meet? I don't know. Nobody really knows except the EU. I have to wonder whether the EU would be as hardcore if MS were a European company rather than an American company. It's just a question of fairness. MS should definitely pay for violating the law; however, the EU shouldn't pile-on, either. Just my 2 cents.

Reply Parent Score: -1

Moulinneuf Member since:

I Dont know why everytime Etats-Unians ( Dont bring America and Americans in your shit ) company break the rules , get condemned , they play the Amerrican card angle and cry fool. The same rule apply to everyone:

A huge increase in fines for companies that operate cartels or break European Union competition law will be announced on Wednesday by the European Commission.

Brussels has already imposed some of the toughest fines in recent history, including a record €497m ($626m, £350m) penalty against Microsoft in 2004 and one of €462m against Roche in 2001. Over the past few months the Brussels regulator has again ratcheted up the fines, especially in cartel cases.

Officials believe that only higher fines will deter companies from operating price-fixing cartels or abusing dominant market positions.

They are particularly keen to increase the fines for repeat offenders and large groups with significant financial fire-power.

The new guidelines, which have been seen by the Financial Times, reflect the Commission’s belief that the rules are too rigid and lack transparency – a view shared by many competition lawyers and most companies targeted by the Brussels trust-busters.

The new regime will apply to all companies found guilty of participating in a cartel or that abuse their dominant market position. It will almost certainly mean that more companies will be fined the maximum amount allowed under EU law, which is 10 per cent of global annual turnover. Up to now, only a handful of companies have been punished that severely.

The new regime will be especially tough on repeat offenders. At present, fines are usually raised by 50 per cent for companies that have previous convictions for antitrust abuses. Now the Commission can double the punishment in cases where there is one earlier ruling against the group, and may go even higher for “multi-recidivists”.

Companies will in future be treated as repeat offenders by the Commission if they have previously been convicted by national competition authorities.

Fines will be calculated by fixing a basic amount – up to 30 per cent of a company’s sales of the relevant product in the market where the abuse has taken place – and then multiplying it by the number of years during which the abuse continued. To this may be added an “entrance fee”, equivalent to 15-25 per cent of the company’s yearly sales of the product in question.

“The mere fact that a company enters into a cartel will cost it at least 15-25 per cent of its yearly turnover,” the Commission paper says.

Stephen Kinsella, a Brussels-based partner at law firm Sidley Austin, said changes to the current fining practices would be welcome, especially if they introduced greater predictability and transparency. “At present it is almost impossible to foresee whether a company will be fined €25m or €100m. Greater clarity would also help the Commission, because it would be harder for companies to challenge the fines in court.”

The Commission declined to comment. However, Neelie Kroes, the competition commissioner, has made clear in her most recent rulings against cartels that she is keen to intensify the crackdown on abusive companies.

She said earlier this month that she was “shocked” that chemicals groups such as ICI had broken cartel rules repeatedly.

Reply Parent Score: 5

siki_miki Member since:

This is excellent. First to target should be mobile operators in multiple EU countries for obvious price fixing and even worse fixing of roaming call prices.

Maybe phone prices will drop to a normal level if that happens.

Reply Parent Score: 2

dylansmrjones Member since:

It has nothing to do with the company being american.

If you knew something about the laws in EU-countries, you'd know that minor danish companies and swedish, german, italian and spanish companies (continue the list as you see fit) have received the same treatment.

I don't really agree with the EU on this kind of treatment, but it has nothing to do with MS being an american company. It has something to do with MS being a monopoly. Personally I don't see that as a problem - monopolies can be countered with market forces - if you have a truely free market, that is.

But since that isn't the case (using quasi-plan economy in EU), limiting monopolies through laws and court rulings in the way it's done. This also happens in USA.

Reply Parent Score: 3