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Europe should beware US-style antitrust litigation

Microsoft's Greg McCurdy talks to Ben Maiden about plans to increase private antitrust lawsuits in Europe.

(This article appears courtesy of International Financial Law Review,  sign up for a free trial here)

Microsoft's headquarters in the US Pacific northwest may be a 14-hour flight from Brussels, but as a multinational company it is one of hundreds whose operations in Europe are subject to scrutiny by competition authorities there.

In July the European Commission (EC) announced that it was imposing a €280.5 million ($360.8 million) fine for what it described as Microsoft's failure to comply with a 2004 decision that found it to be in breach of EU antitrust rules. The company disputes the Commission's claims and is asking the European courts to review its compliance efforts and the fine.

For Greg McCurdy, a senior attorney at Microsoft in Seattle, the EC's decision is of great concern, particularly at a time when the EC is also considering proposals that would help plaintiffs to bring private litigation against companies they allege are abusing competition laws.

Like many observers McCurdy, who manages his company's international antitrust proceedings before the EC, the European Court of First Instance, the Korean Fair Trade Commission and various US courts, is concerned that the EC's proposals could be the first step in a shift for Europe towards what many see as the US's overly litigious environment.

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