A preliminary European court judgment yesterday upheld a complaint against the European Commission for failing to investigate alleged antitrust abuses by Microsoft France.

The alleged abuses involve the company's ban of imports of Microsoft software from Canada. The software, imported from Canada, was cheaper than the software distributed via Microsoft France's officially recognized distribution network.

Jonathan Faull, deputy spokesman for the Commission, said: "We have just received the judgment, and will now study it in detail before deciding on our response."

The Commission has two months to appeal the judgment, made by the Court of First Instance. If the Commission appeals, the full Court of Justice will hear the case. Alternatively, the EC can comply with the ruling and open an investigation, Faull explained.

Even though there is now a risk that an investigation could be launched, John Frank, director of law and corporate affairs at Microsoft Europe, said: "We look forward to addressing our concerns about grey imports. We believe that there are very good reasons in the public interest to prevent imports of these goods."