Microsoft to Appeal European Antitrust Fine - TheStreet

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fresh from waving the white flag in its attempt to buy Yahoo! (YHOO) , Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report has decided to fight an uphill battle against the European Commission.

The company said Friday that it is appealing the most recent fine levied against it by the EC in an antitrust action. "We are filing this appeal in a constructive effort to seek clarity from the Court," Microsoft said in a statement. The company declined to elaborate.

In February, the EC

fined the Redmond, Wash., software giant

899 million euros, or approximately $1.4 billion, for charging its rivals "unreasonable prices" related to Microsoft's server software.

In its decision, the EC said Microsoft had charged excessively high royalty rates for interoperability information to competitors wanting to make their products compatible with Microsoft's. The company twice lowered its rates in 2007 within Europe before the EC made its decision.

Microsoft took at charge of $1.42 billion, or 15 cents a share, for the Feb. 27 fine in its third quarter ended in March.

Its stock was up 20 cents, or 0.7%, to $29.47 in recent trading.

Microsoft is calling the latest fine into question in spite of a dismal track record when going up against the EC. In an earlier antitrust fight with the EC, Microsoft was fined 497 million euros, or $613 million, in 2004. The company dropped remaining appeals in October 2007 and paid an additional 280.5 million euros in fines tacked on later for noncompliance. In total, the company paid the EC 777.5 million euros in that case.

But Microsoft may be taking this tack given the threat of even more fines by an aggressive European antitrust body. In January, the EC said it was opening two new investigations against the company, one based upon a complaint made by

Opera Software

, which makes a competing Web browser. The other complaint was made by the European Committee for Interoperable Systems, an association of companies that are some of Microsoft's chief competitors:

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

,

Sun Microsystems

(JAVA)

,

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

,

Adobe

(ADBE) - Get Report

,

Red Hat

(RHT) - Get Report

,

Corel

and Opera, among others.