Microsoft Slapped With Record EC Fine For ‘Unreasonable’ Patent Charges

The European Commission has fined Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) 899 million euros ($1.3 billion; £680.9 million) (its biggest ever antitrust penalty) for failing to to comply with a 2004 ruling it must hand server information to competitors. In March that year, MS was deemed to have extended its Windows PC monopoly in to the workgroup server market by withholding information that would let rival vendors offer product integration. Today’s fine came because, until October 2007, Microsoft had still been charging unreasonable amounts for access to that information, the EC said.

Statement from competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, who is getting used to seeing Microsoft: “Microsoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision. I hope that today’s decision closes a dark chapter in Microsoft’s record of non-compliance.”

The 2004 ruling had also compelled Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without Windows Media Player and had fined the company 497 million euros ($736.55 million, £374.62 million) for abusing its dominance of the European market. MS chose to appeal and lost in court in September. Kroes said the company had commanded a 2.98 percent cut of revenues from companies who wanted to get information required to ensure their products play ball with its workgroup server software. In May 2007, that was lowered to 0.5 percent but the EC remained unsatisfied until Microsoft switched to require a flat 10,000 euro ($14,820, £7,537) fee in October.