Microsoft Abandons European Antitrust Hearing

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has withdrawn its demand for a hearing after it was found guilty of anti-competitive behavior in Europe. The firm says it could not hope for a fair hearing because many officials will be unable to attend.

The European Commission, the EU's administrative wing, issued a 'ruling in principle' in January that Microsoft had breached competition laws by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows while not allowing other browsers to be included with the system on new machines.

Nobody's Listening

The hearing on this issue had been scheduled for June 3rd through June 5th, but Microsoft says it appears many of the leading European competition officials are already scheduled to attend an antitrust conference in Switzerland at that time. The firm believes this would make it impossible to present its case effectively and get a fair hearing.

Microsoft's Dave Heiner, a senior lawyer with the firm, says it asked for a change of date so that all relevant officials could attend, but the EU said no other dates were available. He says Microsoft still wants a hearing on another date but the EU says that by refusing to attend on June 3rd to 5th, the firm is automatically considered to have withdrawn its request for a hearing. (Source

No Reason To Postpone

The EU hasn't said much about the claims, though a spokesman told the Associated Press that "the commission couldn't see any reason to postpone." (Source:

Had Microsoft not contested this ruling, it would automatically have faced penalties. However, it has submitted a written defense, that should force the EU to further examine the case.

The defense included claims that the EU was working from outdated statistics and that threats to punish Microsoft by forcing it to include other browsers with Windows would violate a principle that antitrust offenders were responsible for choosing their own method of rectifying their poor behavior.

The firm also argued that because Opera and Firefox both have deals to have Google as their home page, forcing Microsoft to include them in Windows might wind up giving Google an unfair advantage in the search engine market.

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