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Germany fines Microsoft $11.9M for anticompetitive Office pricing

Microsoft disagrees but will pay fine to avoid long legal battle

By Jeremy Kirk
April 8, 2009 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Germany has fined Microsoft Corp. $11.9 million for illegally pressing a retailer to sell its Office productivity software for a certain price, one of the country's competition authorities said today.

Microsoft has accepted the fine, according to a statement from the Bundeskartellamt, which is affiliated with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

Microsoft employees and those of a national retailer met on two occasions and agreed on the resale price of "Office Home and Student 2007." An advertising campaign for the software then launched in October.

Suppliers and retailers are allowed to discussed pricing strategies within some limits, the Bundeskartellamt said.

"However, this must not lead to a form of coordination where the supplier actively tries to coordinate the pricing activities of the retailer and thus retailer and supplier agree on future actions of the retailer," the agency said. "In the present case, this boundary has been crossed."

Microsoft said in a statement that it doesn't agree with the Bundeskartellamt's decision, but it chose to pay the fine rather than enter a long legal dispute. The company said the case involved only one reseller and that it does "not reflect an ongoing or consistent practice" of the company.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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