MS ANTITRUST : E.U. court admits Microsoft intervenors

The European court weighing Microsoft Corp.’s antitrust appeal has approved the list of players that will be able to intervene in the case to voice their opinions for or against the rulings.

The Court of First Instance (CFI), in Luxembourg, admitted five organizations in support of Microsoft and four in support of the European Commission last week.

Those arguing for Microsoft include industry trade groups and long-time allies the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) and Computing Technology Industry Association (CTIA). Also speaking on its behalf are European companies Exor AB of Sweden, small business software provider Mamut ASA of Norway and Italian enterprise software provider Teamsystem SpA. Mamut and Teamsystem represent one intervening organization, acting together with combined legal representation.

The fifth intervenor for Microsoft is the group consisting of digital rights management software vendor DMD BV, MPS Broadband, digital TV set-top box technology company Pace Micro Technology PLC, digital technology provider Quantel Ltd. and Tandberg Television.

In the Commission’s corner is long-time Microsoft rival RealNetworks Inc., as well as Free Software Foundation Europe, Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) and trading as Videobanner, which uses streaming audio and video in advertising banners.

Absent from the list are previous Microsoft opponents Novell Inc. and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA). The software giant reached settlements with both organizations last year. The intervenors will be tapped to provide live testimony and written observations as the court deliberates over an appeal of the sanctions levelled against the software maker last year. Only organizations that could prove the outcome of the case would have a direct impact on their business were admitted as intervenors.

The Commission decided last March that Microsoft abused its dominance in the desktop software market in order to gain an edge in related markets, most notably media players, where its competitors include Apple Computer Inc. and RealNetworks. The Commission hit the company with a