Reconciling the Irreconcilable

One more demonstration of the problems a notion of ownership engenders in this space: Microsoft, Trying to Avoid a European Fine, Defends Demand for Royalties

The legal skirmishes over the European Commission’s antitrust ruling against Microsoft are moving into a fourth year. In its original ruling, the commission ordered Microsoft to sell a version of its Windows operating system without its Windows Media Player. Microsoft did so, but the so-called N version, which sold for the same price as Windows with the Media Player included, was a commercial flop.

Microsoft maintains that the other remedy imposed in the 2004 ruling — that it share its confidential server software code — implied that it could charge royalties.

But competitors say that Microsoft is asking exorbitant fees, discouraging many from designing software to work with Microsoft products. According to its Web site, Microsoft is proposing royalty fees that range from $5.60 to $666.75 a server under a formula that ties the fee level to the revenue generated by any software designed using Microsoft’s information.