When the European Union levied a $1.3 billion fine against Microsoft in 2008 for failing to comply with a 2004 antitrust order, Microsoft immediately vowed to appeal. This week, the European General Court heard arguments in the case.
According to Reuters, Microsoft argued the then-record fine was excessive. Moreover, its attorneys said the question would not have been an issue in the first place had the commission's guidance on avoiding a fine been clearer. In response, European Commission attorney Nicholas Khan told the court:
This is a case about a gambler who doubled up on a losing bet, lost again and now wants his money back.
Observers say it's unlikely that the court will side against the commission, but this is the first appeal of its kind regarding antitrust fines. As such, even if the fine in this particular case is upheld, the court may show its hand as to what it would consider excessive. Intel and others facing large fines in the EU are keeping a close eye on the outcome.
The court's decision is expected within six to 12 months.