Microsoft CFI appeal: the outcome

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On 17 September 2007 the Court of First Instance (CFI) gave its judgment in Microsoft’s appeal against the European Commission’s decision to fine Microsoft €497 million for abuse of dominance by failing to supply interoperability information and for bundling Windows Media Player with Windows.

The CFI has essentially upheld the Commission’s decision and has not reduced the fine imposed on Microsoft. The CFI did, however, decide that the Commission exceeded its powers by requiring the use of a monitoring trustee to supervise (at Microsoft’s expense) Microsoft’s compliance with the terms of the Commission decision. The CFI found that the Commission has no authority to compel Microsoft to grant to a monitoring trustee powers which the Commission itself is not authorised to confer on a third party.

In relation to the refusal to supply interoperability information, the court did not formally consider the existence of IP rights in the information, but instead proceeded on the assumption that there were IP rights in the communication protocols or the specifications and applied the legal test accordingly.

This long awaited judgment is sure to spark a lively debate.

Please click here for the CFI’s press release on this case, which includes a link to the CFI’s full judgement.