This June is looking to prove to be quite consequential for most legal scholars, and for indeed the country at large. That’s because in the course of one week, the Supreme Court planned to release their eagerly anticipated decisions on two of the most controversial cases that the high court has heard in recent memory. On Monday June 25, the court handed down its ruling on the anti-immigration legislation that was signed into law back in the state of Arizona back in April 2010, and ruled against the state on most provisions.
The decision that political commentators are most anxious to dissect will come on Thursday June 28, when Chief Justice John Roberts and his eight fellow Justices determine the fate of the health care reform package that President Barack Obama spearheaded and signed into law back in March 2010. These two cases have consumed the large amount of attention from media outlets across the country, yet there is another consequential decision facing one of the world’s most profitable corporations that could strike them a severe blow. The General Court of the European Union will decide on the fine that Microsoft must pay to compensate for their antitrust violations over the past decade.
The court will rule tomorrow, June 27, whether or not Microsoft will have to pay down an 899 million euro fine for failing to comply with an antitrust order they received all the way back in 2004. 899 million euros is equivalent to a little over $1.1 billion. The order handed down in 2004 instructed Microsoft to make information available to third party organizations so that products could be developed to be compatible with the Windows desktop OS and to unbundle the Windows Media Player from the Windows operating system. At that time, Microsoft was ordered to pay a record 497 million euro fine, equivalent to roughly $794 million. In 2008, the same court ruled that Microsoft failed to comply with that order, and thusly laid an additional fine on the company, the 899 million euro fine that is now in question. That fine is only in question due to the appeal Microsoft filed only a few months after the devastating decision. According to Microsoft, the appeal process was meant as a “constructive effort to seek clarity from the court.”
Antitrust suits are not something Microsoft is unaccustomed to. The company had its legal troubles on this side of the pond as well. In the same year that Microsoft received its initial fine from the European Union, the company settled its long dispute with the United States Department of Justice as well. The case went on for six years, and went through several courts. The Attorney General of Massachusetts was intent on moving the case even further along in order to issue harsher penalties against the software giant, but his appeal was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Court ordered similar conditions to the European Union in the same year, in that Microsoft would be forced to reveal relevant information to third parties, and they set up a three person panel that would have access to the company’s systems, records and source code for a period of up to five years.
For years prior to the decisions, Microsoft was accused of employing several unethical tactics in order to monopolize the market. These tactics included the company’s plan to force computer manufacturers to equip their PCs with its web browser, otherwise they would not be allowed to utilize the Windows operating system. While fighting off lawsuits from several parties, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates defended his company’s practices, citing the right for his business to innovate.
The decision handed down by the European court will not be as fateful to the everyday lives of Americans as much as the aforementioned trials, but it is most certainly fateful to the one of the biggest employers and lucrative companies the world has ever known.
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Jesse Stoler is an assistant editor, head writer, content developer and link builder at Page One Power, where his direction has provided dozens of employees with the insight and skills needed to make their clients rank. In addition to online marketing, Stoler is a thoughtful leader and he provides guidance to his team of fellow writers while also finding new, innovative ways to link build.
Outside of work, his hobbies include stand-up comedy, acting and rooting hopelessly for the New York Knicks. You can connect with him on Google+.