EU court to rule on $1.1 billion Microsoft fine on June 27

LUXEMBOURG Thu May 24, 2012 9:39am EDT

A worker adjusts a logo on the Microsoft stand at the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

A worker adjusts a logo on the Microsoft stand at the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover February 27, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

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LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Europe's second-highest court will rule on June 27 whether EU regulators were justified in fining Microsoft 899 million euros ($1.1 billion) four years ago for failing to comply with an antitrust ruling intended to make business easier for its rivals.

The European Commission imposed the fine - a record at the time - after the U.S. software group failed to provide information to firms with competing products, as had been ordered by the EU watchdog in 2004.

The penalty was the first imposed by the EU regulator for non-compliance with an antitrust decision.

The Luxembourg-based General Court of the European Union will issue its ruling next month, the court's website showed on Thursday.

Microsoft's lawyers argued during a court hearing in May last year that the fine was excessive and undeserved.

A lawyer for the Commission compared the company to a gambler who had lost a bet and then wanted his money back.

The EU executive imposed a 497 million euro fine on Microsoft in 2004 for abusing its dominant position to block competitors.

The case is crucial to other companies challenging big regulatory fines. Intel Corp is set to argue its case before judges from July 3-6 in a bid to overturn its 1.06 billion euro penalty levied by the Commission in 2009.

Intel's fine is the largest ever in the European Union for a single company. EU regulators said the firm used anti-competitive tactics against smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Mark Potter)

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