Brussels – 23 April 2007 – “It is standard industry practice to license interoperability information royalty-free,” said Simon Awde, Chairman of the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS). “We therefore view Microsoft’s statement today urging the Commission to provide greater clarity on the royalties that the company can charge, as just another example of its chronic foot dragging towards anti-trust compliance,” he added, pointing out that a full three years after the EU’s March 2004 Decision, Microsoft still has not properly complied with the necessary remedies.
“Microsoft’s wish for ‘a constructive conversation’ with the Commission on this issue confirms our concerns,” he commented. There are multiple examples of Microsoft licensing its interoperability information on a royalty-free basis in those areas where it has not achieved a dominant position. “So, why does Microsoft need a conversation with the Commission to set suitable royalty rates,” Awde asked.
Awde concluded that “there is no doubt that the 2004 Decision obligates Microsoft to license. We can only believe that by trying to impose a prohibitive royalty rate, Microsoft is effectively refusing to license.”
After one of the most extensive and lengthy investigations in the history of EU competition law, the European Commission condemned Microsoft in March 2004 for foreclosing competition for work group servers and media players. To remedy this market abuse, the Decision requires Microsoft to not only disclose necessary interoperability information, but also to license it on fair and reasonable terms. It further stipulates that Microsoft can charge only for the innovative value of the interoperability protocol, and not simply for the right to interoperate with Microsoft‘s operating system.