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SOUTH KOREA: South Korean court rejects Microsoft's request for stay of antitrust sanctions

by Kelly OlsenThe Asociated Press
July 5th, 2006

Microsoft said Tuesday it will comply with sanctions imposed by South Korea's antitrust regulator after a court rejected the company's request for a stay.

Microsoft had asked the Seoul High Court to allow penalties to be suspended while the company pursues a legal challenge to a ruling earlier this year by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) ordering it to provide two separate versions of Windows from Aug. 24.

"Consistent with the court's decision, Microsoft will, in a timely manner, comply with the KFTC's order," the Redmond company said.

The company is pursuing an appeal to the commission's ruling in the Seoul High Court. That action is unaffected by Tuesday's decision regarding the stay request.

Microsoft also said it "will continue to defend its position in the case through the appeal process."

The commission, in a final ruling in February, fined the software giant $34 million and ruled that it abused its dominant market position in South Korea by tying certain software to its Windows operating system.

Under the ruling finalized earlier this year, one of the versions of Windows must be stripped of Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger. The other must carry links to Web pages that allow consumers to download competing versions of such software.

Microsoft said it plans to release new versions of the Windows desktop-operating system and the Windows server operating system and will stop offering existing versions in South Korea on Aug. 24.

The company emphasized it remains committed to South Korea. "Microsoft intends to continue making investments and engaging in innovative product development for Korean consumers," said Oliver Roll, Microsoft's general manager for marketing in Asia.

Microsoft is engaged in a similar case in Europe. In December 2004, it lost a bid to stop antitrust sanctions while appealing a ruling by the European Union obliging it to share communications code with rivals, offer a version of Windows without Media Player software and pay a record $636 million fine.

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