The European Commission has agreed to give Microsoft more time to respond to charges that it is asking for unreasonable royalty fees in exchange for information that would allow rival systems to interoperate with Windows.
At the beginning of the month the competition commission gave the company four weeks to respond to objections to its royalty licensing terms or face a potential 3m euro ($4m) per-day fine after the EC decided its interoperability information lacked significant innovation.
According to reports, that deadline has now been extended by 20 days to April 23 after Microsoft asked for more time.
The company was fined 280.5m euros ($369.5m) in July 2006 for failing to comply with the Commission’s 2004 antitrust ruling and was threatened with increased fines if it failed to provide complete information regarding its interoperability protocols by November 23.
Microsoft met that deadline and has supplied 1,500 pages of submissions since December 2005 but has failed to convince the EC that its protocols represent significant innovation for which it would be able to charge a non-nominal fee.
In its defense Microsoft pointed out that analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers found its proposed prices were at least 30% below market rate and challenged the Commission’s reading of the agreement that unless its protocols are innovative they should be made available free.
It also challenged the Commission’s right to regulate intellectual property pricing on a global basis, and maintained that it is open to negotiation on pricing.
Microsoft is currently appealing against Commission’s 280.5m euro fine, as well as the initial 497.2m euro ($654.9m) fine delivered after it was found guilty of breaking European Union competition law in March 2004. Separately, it is also appealing demands that it should have to share the interoperability information with open source rivals.