LONDON Microsoft has opened its appeal against a European Union court fine of $1.4 billion (899 million euros), and called for the ruling and fine to be annulled. It said the charge was "unreasonable" and "error prone".
The Commission ruled in February Microsoft had used high prices to discourage competition, and that it had failed to comply with earlier sanctions levied by the EC.
The company told the Court of First Instance the charge had been made without it having taken into account the fact that "the contested decision only concludes that the royalties allegedly established by Microsoft under one particular license... were unreasonable."
According to Microsoft, the Commission made a "manifest error" in deciding its prices were unreasonable saying the prices were "intended to facilitate negotiations between Microsoft and the prospective licensees."
Microsoft lawyers also said the Commission had ignored evidence from patent experts on the subject of whether Microsoft's trade secrets were innovative, and it had denied Microsoft a right to be heard as it failed to give Microsoft the chance to give its views at the end of the period for which it was fined.
The company also suggested the Commission compiled assessment reports "on the basis of documents obtained through powers of investigation that the Court of First Instance held to be unlawful."
The saga goes back to a 2004 ruling that Microsoft failed to comply with its order to provide information to competitors, on reasonable terms. The ruling came after it was found Microsoft had abused its position in the PC and operating systems markets to damage the competition on interoperability and on media players.
The Commission hit Microsoft with a $781million (Euros 497 million) fine and again, later, with a fine $440 million (Euros 280.5 million) for non compliance after Microsoft lost an appeal against the first fine. The February fine covers the period of non compliance since the second fine through to October 21, 2007.
Steve Ballmer on Central and Eastern Europe