German regulators fine Microsoft for price-fixing

(AP) -- Antitrust regulators fined Microsoft Corp.'s German subsidiary 9 million euros ($11.8 million) and said the world's largest software maker illegally influenced retail prices for its Office 2007 programs.

The Bundeskartellamt, Germany's economic regulatory body, said in a statement that an undisclosed retailer worked with Microsoft to set the price of Microsoft's Office Home and Student 2007 software packages before the companies jointly launched an ad campaign.

"Not every contact between supplier and retailer regarding resale prices constitutes an illegal concerted practice," the German group said in the statement, but such communication can't lead to agreement about the retailer's future actions. "In the present case, this boundary has been crossed."

Microsoft said it will comply with German regulations.

"We will use this case as an opportunity to review our internal commercial processes and ensure that we are in full compliance with German law," a statement said.

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Apr 11, 2009
I don't understand this. What is wrong with someone who produces a product getting together with someone who wants to sell the product to decide on a price? What is the law, and how did they break it?

Apr 11, 2009
What about Apple? They fix their prices way above what they are worth. Or is it OK if its any other company besides Microsoft screwing us?

Apr 11, 2009
They probably have an Anti-Competition act whereby you cannot agree on prices that exploit people too much or something.
Fixing prices above worth is OK, as long as they don't collude with someone else - that's the logic, i suppose.

Apr 11, 2009
Yeah, that's what I don't understand. I thought collusion was when a bunch of people agree on a price, like all the gas stations in a town agreeing to charge a huge amount for gas. This sounds like just one retail outlet.

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