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December 16, 2009 3:19 PM

European Regulators Drop Latest Microsoft Antitrust Action

Posted by Matt Straquadine

A post on The Blog of Legal Times, a sibling blog, takes readers inside the European Commission’s decision to drop its latest competition case against Microsoft Corporation. The commission announced its decision to drop the case early Wednesday after Microsoft negotiated an agreement to offer Windows users in Europe a choice of web browsers, including those offered by Mozilla, Apple, and Google, according to The New York Times.

For Microsoft, the agreement averts another lengthy European legal proceeding--and, potentially, a big fine. According to The BLT, Microsoft’s antitrust troubles in Europe began in 1998, when a complaint from Sun Microsystems triggered an investigation into Microsoft’s packaging of its media player with its operating system.

White & Case and Belgian competition firm Van Bael & Bellis represented Microsoft through the media player investigation, which eventually led to fines totaling $1.7 billion, according to The BLT. At the beginning of this year the commission launched another investigation of Microsoft, this time over the software giant’s packaging of Internet Explorer with Windows.

For the latest investigation, Microsoft turned to lawyers at Howrey and Sullivan & Cromwell. Howrey antitrust cochair Trevor Soames acted as Microsoft’s lead lawyer before the commission. Representing complainants were lawyers from Clifford Chance, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, among others.

Reached on a cold and rainy night in Brussels, Soames declined to comment of the substance of the agreement, but said his client “is delighted that the war between it and the Commission seems to have come to an end.”

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