South Korea to let Microsoft drop antitrust appeal

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's antitrust regulator said on Wednesday it has agreed to allow Microsoft MSFT.O to drop its appeal against the agency's landmark ruling, ending a two-year dispute.

The Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) ruled in 2005 that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position, fining it 32.5 billion won ($35.43 million) and ordering it to separate its instant messaging program from the Windows operating system.

The commission rejected Microsoft’s appeal in May 2006, and then the company took the case to the Seoul High Court.

After the court rejected a stay, Microsoft said last year it had made changes to its Windows Vista operating system to meet all of the commission’s demands, and last week it told the court it wants to abandon the appeal.

“We have decided to agree to Microsoft’s request to drop the appeal, given that the company has acted on our request (to separate the instant messaging program),” the regulator said in a statement.

Microsoft also suffered a decisive antitrust defeat in September when a European Union court upheld a landmark ruling that the world’s largest software maker had abused its dominant market position to crush rivals.

The second-highest EU court dismissed the company’s appeal on all key points against the 2004 European Commission ruling and upheld a record 497 million euro ($704.3 million) fine.

Microsoft has said it has not decided whether to appeal the EU case.