EU court ruling on Microsoft could come by mid-November

The European Union (E.U.) judge ruling on whether to suspend sanctions against Microsoft Corp. could deliver his verdict as early as mid-November, sources familiar with the process said Friday.

Bo Vesterdorf, president of the E.U.’s Court of First Instance, is due to rule whether to temporarily suspend sanctions imposed by the European Commission on Microsoft, pending the outcome of Microsoft’s full legal challenge against the Commission.

Vesterdorf heard representations from Microsoft, the European Commission and the two parties’ supporters at a two-day hearing in Luxembourg that started on Sept. 30.

Court officials said Friday that the average time needed for the Court of First Instance to reach a verdict is typically six weeks after it holds a hearing, implying that Vesterdorf could reach his verdict around the middle of November.

Officials noted that the judge reached a verdict in six weeks on a similar case involving intellectual property issues concerning Fairfield, Conn.-based pharmaceutical information company IMS Health Inc. However, an official pointed out that the judge called the Microsoft case “difficult.” The official said that there are two issues at stake involving the effects of unbundling Windows Media Player and publishing the application programming interfaces for its network server software.

In March, the Commission ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without its Media Player and publish application programming interfaces information to open up the network server software market. Microsoft appealed the ruling but the full case could take up to five years to conclude.

In the meantime, the company asked that the Commission’s measures be suspended, arguing that they could cause “irreparable harm” to its brand image and business in the interim.

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