Microsoft asks US to intervene in EC case

Microsoft is asking other U.S. companies to contact the U.S. Department of Justice about the European Commission's antitrust case.

Microsoft is encouraging other U.S. companies to lobby the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to get involved in the European Commission's antitrust ruling against the giant software vendor.

Microsoft, in a memo published by the Financial Times Monday, is asking U.S. companies to contact the DOJ to say they support the software company's position in regard to a March 2004 European Commission ruling.

The Commission ruling said Microsoft had abused its monopoly power by withholding information that would allow other vendors to develop OS software compatible with Microsoft's server OS. Microsoft, in the memo, argues that the Commission ruling would force the company to divulge trade secrets.

"The European Commission's trade secrets decision will establish a precedent that could adversely impact the value of trade secrets which are substantial business assets for many U.S. companies," said the memo, in suggesting talking points for other companies when they contact the DOJ. "This is an important opportunity at a critical time for the U.S. Government to increase its influence on the shaping of competition policy internationally. As you know, intellectual property rights are under assault in many areas of the world."

The Microsoft memo notes that the company itself has asked the DOJ to get involved in the European antitrust case, which is now pending before the European Union's Court of First Instance.

A DOJ spokeswoman said it's "not unusual" for companies to present their views to the agency. "In every matter we make our decisions based on the facts and the law," said Gina Talamona, the spokeswoman.

The Commission and EU member governments have intervened in U.S. competition cases in recent years, Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes said. "It makes sense for the U.S. Government to offer its views in a similar way under the procedures established by European courts, particularly where the issue has broad implications for the global economy," he said, in a statement sent by e-mail.

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