Mergers News

EU fines Microsoft record 899 million euros

BRUSSELS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The European Commission fined Microsoft MSFT.O a record 899 million euros ($1.35 billion) on Wednesday for defying sanctions imposed on the software giant for antitrust violations, far exceeding the original penalty.

The Commission, executive arm of the European Union, has now fined Microsoft 1.68 billion euros for its original violation and for failing to comply with sanctions, more than any other firm. It said no other company had ever ignored sanctions.

“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 antitrust decision,” Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

The Commission said in a landmark 2004 ruling -- upheld by an EU court last year -- that Microsoft had failed to provide needed interoperability information to rival makers of “work group server” software.

That software operates printers and sign-ons in small office groups, but to work must connect with desktop Windows machines.

Microsoft was ordered to provide interoperability information. Microsoft said it would, but only for large royalties. The Commission said that was unreasonable.

“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 said.

After fining Microsoft 407 million euros in 2004, the Commission fined it another 280.5 million euros in July 2006 for failing to comply with the sanctions through June 21, 2006. (Reporting by David Lawsky; Editing by Dale Hudson)