Two trade groups representing Microsoft competitors have asked to speak in the company's second appeal of the European Commission's March 2004 antitrust decision.

The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) is asking to become an intervener in the case before the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, said Thomas Vinje, an antitrust lawyer with Clifford Chance, who represent the group. ECIS counts IBM, Oracle, Nokia, RealNetworks and Red Hat as members.

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) has also requested to join. As interveners, the trade groups would be able to access case files and make written comments on the hearings.

Vinje said it could take the court several months to decide on the group's requests.

Law moves slower than technology

Microsoft has filed two appeals against the European Commission's decision. The first, filed in June 2004, appealed the Commission ruling that fined the company €497 million ($584 million), ordered it to sell a version of its Windows OS without Windows Media Player and to license certain software protocols that would allow other companies to make workgroup server products that run smoothly with Windows.

ECIS and SIIA were accepted as interveners in that appeal.

In August, Microsoft filed the second appeal, saying it did not agree that it should have to make the software protocols available under the GPL (General Public License) for use in open-source products.

The latter issue was not explicitly addressed in the March 2004 ruling, although Microsoft did agree to other changes regarding disclosure of the protocols.