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Monday, July 27, 2009

Microsoft offers 'browser ballot' to resolve European antitrust allegations
Abigail Salisbury at 8:46 AM ET

[JURIST] Microsoft announced [materials] on Friday that it will offer European consumers an option to select from a list of several Web browsers "in an effort to address competition law issues related to Internet Explorer and interoperability." The European Commission (EC) welcomed [press release] Microsoft's "ballot screen" [Reuters report] proposal, adding that it "will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice." Last month, the EC had expressed concern [press release] that merely offering Internet Explorer separately from Windows would not resolve all of the alleged antitrust violations.

Microsoft has faced many legal challenges based on antitrust and unfair competition allegations. In June, a South Korean court ruled [JURIST report] that the corporation violated antitrust laws by packaging software with the Windows operating system, but dismissed requests for damages from two Korean software firms on the grounds that the damages were not sufficiently linked to Microsoft's conduct. In February, Google [corporate website] sought to join the EC's suit against Microsoft, alleging that the bundling of software violated an EC Treaty provision [Article 82 text] that prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position. In 2004, an EC action [materials; JURIST report] required the company to unbundle its media player and to share technical information with competitors and lower its prices, but Microsoft failed to comply with the judgment and the EC assessed a record fine [JURIST report] of €899 million ($1.3 billion). In May 2008, Microsoft filed an appeal [JURIST report] with the European Court of First Instance [official website], seeking to annul the fine.






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