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High-powered business coalition backs EU commission against Microsoft

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A five-member coalition of high-tech heavyweights, including IBM, Oracle and Nokia, has thrown its weight behind the European Commission in its anti-trust court battle with US software giant Microsoft, the group's lawyer said.

The coalition, which was formed in the early 1990s and is called the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), asked the European Court of Justice to allow it to intervene on the commission's side in a competition case expected to be heard in 2006, attorney Thomas Vinje said.

He added that the court had yet to respond to the group's request but could do so over the next several months. Red Hat and Real Networks are also members of the ECIS coalition.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, in March 2004 ruled that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position in the European Union and ordered it to pay a fine of 497 million euros (641 million dollars).

It also demanded that Microsoft market its Windows operating system without its audiovisual software Media Player and ruled that it must in addition make available information that producers of competing software need to enable them to operate with Windows.

Microsoft has appealed against the merits of the commission's March 2004 decision but has not legally challenged the sanctions imposed.


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