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Decision in Microsoft’s EC Appeal Scheduled

What it was really all about was Microsoft asking too much for patent licenses

Since Google, Motorola Mobility and Samsung have gone and put the spotlight back on unreasonable licensing demands, it's at least timely that Europe's second-highest court, the General Court, is going to decide on June 27 whether a Microsoft appeal has any merit.

Back in 2008, the European Commission fined Microsoft $1.14 billion (899 million) ostensibly for not complying with a 2004 antitrust decision, the first time it ever did such a thing.

What it was really all about was Microsoft asking too much for patent licenses and interface documentation to connect Linux servers to Windows although the EC offered Microsoft no pricing guidelines even when asked.

Initially, Microsoft wanted a royalty rate of 3.87% of a licensee's product revenues for a patent license and of 2.98% for a so-called information license It cut those rates to 0.7% and 0.5% but what the EC had in mind was more like where it wound up access to the interoperability information for a flat fee of €10 000 and an optional worldwide patent license for a reduced royalty of 0.4 % of licensees' product revenue.

Microsoft wants the penalty overturned as "unnecessary, unlawful and totally disproportionate." If the decision doesn't go Microsoft's way it can go to the European Court of Justice, the last stop.

Intel is in the process of appealing the record 1.06 billion it was fined in 2009 for anticompetitive behavior towards AMD.

Meanwhile, Microsoft may be courting more trouble with the regulators by barring other browsers from the desktop mode of its sight-unseen Windows for ARM, now called RT.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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