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Microsoft Mum on Plans for EU Appeal

Microsoft Corp. kept its options open Tuesday on whether it will appeal a landmark antitrust ruling and record $613 million fine imposed by European competition authorities that an EU court upheld last month.

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, visiting France to promote innovation, declined to say whether the software maker would contest the ruling to its last level, the European Court of Justice.

The Sept. 17 ruling by the EU's Court of First Instance means "there is a clear set of guidance for us, and we move on in that environment," he told lawmakers.

Asked by The Associated Press whether Microsoft would appeal, he refused to say. He also declined all comment after his first appointment with Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

"Innovation is a topic that is fraught with many stereotypes and misunderstandings," he told members of France's National Assembly.

"It's only through sustained investment and innovation that companies and countries will become leading engines of economic growth and success," he said. "Innovation is about generating ideas and fully exploiting them to drive value or profit."

U.S. Department of Justice assistant attorney general for antitrust Thomas O. Barnett last month criticized the EU decision, saying the legal standard it set had "the unfortunate consequence of harming consumers by chilling innovation and discouraging competition."

Microsoft has two months to appeal the latest EU ruling, which affirmed a nine-year pursuit of the company by European competition authorities.

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