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EU Judge Says Evidence Stays; Decision Likely December 18-21
Friday, November 26 2004 @ 04:44 AM EST

The EU judge handling the Microsoft case indicated to the parties at the special meeting yesterday that the evidence earlier presented by Novell and the CCIA stays in the case and that he expects to have a ruling by mid-December:

"Vesterdorf said his decision would probably appear on Dec. 18 or Dec. 20, Wainright added. 'We have the impression that the order's already been done in French and it has to be translated into English,' he said.

"Lawyers for Microsoft and third parties also said Vesterdorf had said the decision would come before Christmas. . . .

"'All the parties in the meeting agreed, as Microsoft has always maintained, that CCIA and Novell's past testimony should remain on the record, said Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes. 'We look forward to the judge's interim decision and more importantly moving on with the broader appeal of the Commission's case.'

"Vesterdorf . . . will decide what sanctions if any should be suspended, but his decision will be separate from the main case. Ultimately, Microsoft's appeal of the Commission decision will be heard by a three or five-judge panel of the Court of First Instance, which will not include Vesterdorf."

A Microsoft spokesman said prior evidence can't be struck, they never asked for that, and they didn't approach Novell and CCIA with any such thing in mind.

Of course, the company that the EU Commission found to be an illegal monopolist in March wouldn't dream of trying to tilt the balance unfairly in November.

I think covering Microsoft is going to be even more fun than covering SCO.

Microsoft's spokesman said they so look forward to the judge's decision and then to pursuing their appeal. I take it they are not convinced they will gain a delay in implementing the EU order's penalties:

"The commission ordered the company to sell a version of Windows without a music and video player and to license information on the operating system to rivals.

"The EU antitrust office said it sought to alter Microsoft's behavior because its investigation found that the software giant tried to squeeze competitors out of Windows-related markets, a practice it said was continuing."

No kidding. I'm thinking the minute Microsoft or a lackey brings a patent infringement lawsuit against Linux, we tell the EU Commission all about it. I don't think it would hurt, actually, to tell them what we see happening right now. Of course, from Microsoft's perspective, governmental agencies are mere bumps in the road, but expensive bumps, at least. All the articles about this special meeting stress that RealNetworks is denying that it and the EU are becoming "isolated". Just think about that for a minute. Microsoft wishes to isolate the EU Commission? It represents 25 nations. Just who do they think they are?

Folks. Let's face it. We bear some responsibility for this mess. We kept buying their software. The vendors and other companies and organizations can at least plead that they were muscled into going along with Microsoft, or paid millions. But what's our excuse?

Ed Black, who allegedly personally pocketed half of the millions Microsoft paid the CCIA, continues to refuse to comment, which is what you'd do if it were not true, right? Right? No? It's possible, of course, that there are factors preventing him from speaking at this time, but I'm sure it will all come out in the wash eventually. Things like that have a way of doing so in the Internet age, as he has recently learned.

Meanwhile, in case you were wondering about how the Microsoft/Time Warner purchase of ContentGuard is going, which the EU Commission is looking into, note this news:

"French technology company Thomson SA said Monday it was joining Microsoft Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s proposed venture to make anti-piracy software, a move that could relieve European Union concerns about the pending deal.

"In a joint statement, the companies said Thomson has agreed to purchase a 33 percent voting stake in U.S.-based ContentGuard, changing the deal from a two-company joint venture to three.

"Together, they aim to develop new standards in so-called digital rights management technologies, which allow online access to movies, music and other digital content while protecting it from unauthorized copying and counterfeiting."

The EU has expressed concerns about the MS-Time Warner deal. It sent a "confidential charge sheet" setting forth its objections to both companies this month, threatening to block the deal:

"Thomson's investment adds a 'European-headquartered partner that will make this important technology more accessible,' especially in Web services and devices, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said in the joint statement.

"Although Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes called the deal 'business driven,' it could also help Microsoft avoid another clash with EU antitrust regulators."

Hmm. Microsoft intends to develop "new standards" for DRM. You don't suppose they'll then patent them and license them in such a way that GPL software can't use them, they way they are trying to do with Sender ID, do you? I wonder if the EU Commission understands the whole anticompetitive patent strategy and how the community suspects Microsoft will use DRM and "standards" to try to destroy its real competition, Linux?

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