Brussels slaps record fine on Microsoft

LONDON - The European Commission has fined Microsoft a record Euro899m (£673m) for failing to comply with sanctions imposed on the company in March 2004, when it was deemed to be abusing its dominant position in the software market.

The fine, which is the largest lobbied on any business by the Commission, follows a €497m penalty paid in 2004 and a €280.5m fine paid in 2006, bringing the total Microsoft has now paid the Commission to €1.68bn.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement that no company had ever ignored sanctions applied as a result of anti-competitive behaviour.

She said: “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 anti-trust decision.

“I hope that today's decision closes a dark chapter in Microsoft's record of non-compliance with the Commission's March 2004 decision,” Kroes added.

The Commission said that the royalties Microsoft charged for an information licence – a licence to access secret interoperability information - prior to 22 October 2007, when it then changed its rates, were “unreasonable”.

It, therefore, failed to comply with the March 2004 decision for three years, so continuing the behaviour deemed illegal in that first ruling.

Today’s decision concerns a period of non-compliance not covered by the penalty payment decision in July 2006, between 21 June 2006 and 21 October 2007. It does not cover the royalties for a distinct patent licence.