Back in September last year we wrote about how the European Court finally ruled on an antitrust case that was started back in 2004 against Microsoft. The ruling? Microsoft was fined $690 million dollars. For this particular fine, it was because the EU felt Microsoft needed to make a version of Windows without Media Player included. At that point, it was a record fine but now the EU is fining them again for a new record fine of $1.3 billion dollars. In all, Microsoft is expected to pay under $2.5 billion in fines.
According to the Associated Press, the issue this time is that EU regulators claim “the company charged “unreasonable prices” until last October to software developers who wanted to make products compatible with the Windows desktop operating system.” More specifically, the unreasonable prices were charged for access to “interface documentation for work group servers.” The fines this time are the result of “non-compliance” says the EU and they believe Microsoft is still restricting their competitors. Microsoft has said that those issues that they are being fined for have already been resolved so it looks as though Microsoft is going to have to do some fighting to prove their case.
So what are the “unreasonable prices” Microsoft is charging?
- Originally, Microsoft set the royalty rate at 3.87 percent of a licensee’s product revenues
- Companies wanting communication information were required to pay 2.98 percent of their products’ revenues
- At this point, Microsoft has lowered the patent rate to 0.8 percent (only in Europe)
- The Communication Information rate was lowered to 0.5 percent (only in Europe)
We don’t know all of the in’s and out’s regarding EU rules and regulations, but at this point it seems as though they are getting a little fine happy and going after Microsoft simply because they can. Or perhaps they’re just trying to make a point. Any thoughts? Did Microsoft deserve to have another fine slapped on them?