Legal Web/Tech

Microsoft v EU – Day 1

Update (11 Nov). The Associated Press reports that Microsoft’s testimony involved a “stultifying” Powerpoint presentation as it defended itself today against charges of anticompetive behavior in both server and media player markets.

In addition, the European Union is reportedly exploring possible violations associated with other bundling issues: instant-messaging, e-mail and hand-held devices such as mobile phones. The EU first investigated Microsoft in 1993.

It’s important to note that in April 2000, US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson found Microsoft guilty of violating US antitrust law.

The European Union began its investigation into the firm shortly thereafter.

1994 revisited
Thus, the discussion taking place across the Atlantic deals with corporate behavior since that historic decision, just as the 2000 decision followed an earlier investigation into monopoly abuses in the US (see the 1994 consent decree, which was judged “not in the public interest” under the Tunney Act – a decision which was overturned).

At that time, Microsoft’s share of the operating system market for Intel-based PCs was only 80%. Today is is more than 90%.

From the Washington Post, 1994:

“There’s no question they had locked up the market with these practices, completely unfairly,” said Anne K. Bingaman, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s antitrust division. “That will end.”

But it didn’t end. Not then. Not now, as evidenced by the EU case.

This suggests a pattern of corporate behavior that is not constrained by either law (the rules of the game) or the threat of punishment (only hand-slapping to this point).

Related information:
US Law
In the United States, antitrust law is codifed in the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890); theClayton Antitrust Act (1919); and the Federal Trade Commission Act (1914).

Analyses, News, Timelines
DOJ v Microsoft – Stanford analysis
The Making of a Monopoly – Washington Post
Microsoft v The Europeans – Washington Post “Filter”
Timeline – ProCompetition
Timeline – Seattle PI
Yahoo – Microsoft Antitrust

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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