April 30, 2004

An EU Copyright Ruling on Licensing & Competition [9:08 am]

From the NYTimes: Court Ruling in Europe Could Affect Microsoft

Although the final word in this case rests with a court in Frankfurt, Thursday’s judgment by Europe’s highest court clarified European law in this field, where intellectual property law and competition law meet.

The court said in a statement that a refusal by a dominant company to license its copyright to rivals breached competition law only if this prevented products or services from coming to market, or if such a refusal was “capable of eliminating all competition on the relevant market.”

[...] On Thursday, Microsoft said the court’s judgment “is a fatal blow to the commission’s compulsory licensing case” against it. Microsoft is planning an appeal of the ruling to the European Court of Justice within a couple of months. The commission, on the other hand, said that the judgment supported its ruling last month.

“We believe that these exceptional circumstances as set out by the court have been met in the Microsoft case,” the European Commission spokeswoman, Amelia Torres, said.

[...] One competition lawyer, who asked not to be named, said that if the court intended to require a dominant company to license its copyright only once the company had eliminated all its rivals, “This would render European competition law completely useless.”

See also InfoWorld’s Court clarifies antitrust law in Europe

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