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28/09/2016

Sanctions against Microsoft temporarily lifted

Competition

Sanctions against Microsoft temporarily lifted

The Commission has put on hold its antitrust ruling against
Microsoft while EU judges examine the company’s request to suspend
the sanctions until a final judgement is given.

Background

The Commission has decided to temporarily suspend its antitrust
ruling against Microsoft while EU judges examine a request from the
company to lift the sanctions pending a final verdict. 

A final judgement on whether the antitrust ruling was justified
is not expected for several years, but the software company was
asked to implement the measures within months.

Alongside a formal court action against the ruling, Microsoft
filed a separate request asking for a suspension of the sanctions
until the judges give their final ruling. The sanctions were
adopted in March after five years of investigation by the
Commission.

Commission sources close to the case told EurActiv that they
expected the judges to decide on the suspension request in
September this year, giving Microsoft a few more week's breathing
space. But further appeals on this very decision are likely to come
from both sides, the source added, with more legal wranglings
set to be staged between the EU executive and the software
giant.

In a statement, the Commission made it clear that the delay was
only temporary: "The Commission's decision is without prejudice to
Microsoft's obligation to implement the remedies [...] without
delay, should the President of the Court of First Instance reject
Microsoft's request."

It added that there "there is a strong public interest in favour
of implementing [the measures] without waiting for the judgement on
the substance of the case".

Microsoft argues that the measures should be lifted because they
would force the company to disclose software code protected by
intellectual property rights. "Once IP is published and once
products are released, they cannot be taken back," the company said
in a statement. This, it believes, meets one essential condition
for the judges to grant the suspension request. The company argues
that it would suffer irreparable harm if they were to be applied
straight away.

Further Reading