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Microsoft's Subpoena for IBM Docs Rejected

Latest effort to obtain documents in its EU antitrust case fails.

(Brussels, Belgium) -- A New York court has quashed a Microsoft Corp. subpoena aimed at compelling International Business Machines Corp. to hand over documents related to the software giants's European antitrust case.

Judge Colleen McMahon said Microsoft's subpoena amounted to a "blatant end run" on the European Commission's authority, according to an April 21 court order obtained on Friday.

Microsoft accused the commission of colluding with IBM and other rivals and denying the company a fair chance to review key evidence.

The regulator has refused to give Microsoft access to some documents, citing confidentiality concerns and rivals' "fear of retaliation," according to a Boston court ruling earlier this week in which a judge quashed a similar Microsoft request for documents held by Novell Inc.

Last month a U.S. federal court in California rejected Microsoft's request for documents from Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. Microsoft appealed that decision. However, Microsoft decided to withdraw the appeal following the New York court's ruling.

"The writing is clearly on the wall for these actions, and we will not be pursuing them any further," Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes said.

The four competitors named in the U.S. subpoenas have supported European regulators' finding that Microsoft isn't doing enough to comply with a March 2004 antitrust decision. In that ruling, the European Commission fined Microsoft a record euro497 million (US$613 million) and ordered it to help rivals make their software products work with servers running the ubiquitous Windows operating system.

Microsoft now faces further fines of as much as euro2 million (US$2.4 million) a day backdated to Dec. 15 for failing to provide adequate guidelines for other software developers.

Adam Cohen is a correspondent of Dow Jones Newswires.

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