Earlier today, the presiding judge in the government’s antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft issued an opinion known as the “conclusions of law.” Regrettably, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson paints a picture of Microsoft that is far from reality. Labeling the company a monopoly, he said that Microsoft “maintained its monopoly power by anticompetitive means” and attempted to monopolize the Web browser market. The judge also ruled that Microsoft violated another section of the law by “unlawfully tying its Web browser to its operating system” and could be sued under state anti-competition laws. In reality, Microsoft’s behavior is the lawful byproduct of the most competitive marketplace in the world. The government’s actions through this case threaten to limit that competition and the innovation and consumer benefits that come from it.
Citizens for a Sound Economy has taken a steadfast position throughout the successive stages of the trial opposing the government’s antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. Government involvement in the technology sector will not be good for the American consumer as witnessed by today’s record 348.58 point drop in the Nasdaq. Federal regulators cannot second-guess or forecast a market as dynamic as the software industry. Requiring Microsoft, or any other software company, to check with government bureaucrats before it can release a new product or breaking the company up into pieces will only slow innovation and harm consumers.
CSE believes the government should not determine how products are made available in the software marketplace or what they look like. Consumers can and should decide for themselves whether a particular product is useful and worth the price being asked for it.
The government’s case is more about corporate welfare than protecting consumers. This lawsuit is the result of Microsoft’s competitors traveling to Washington to lobby the government to get what they were unable to get in the marketplace – protection from tough competition from a successful rival.
Equally as bad as the government’s lawsuit is the new generation of baseless class-action lawsuits brought by trial lawyers who hope to cash-in on Microsoft’s industry-leading innovation in the name of consumers. The threat of frivolous lawsuits will drive entrepreneurs and investment from the technology sector and limit, what has been to date, an astounding pace of innovation. We must save our legal system from this elite group of greedy trial lawyers who are using these government-induced lawsuits to enrich themselves, limit innovation and raise costs for consumers.
Through this lawsuit, the government wants to assert control over the marketplace and this will invariably limit choices and punish innovation. CSE believes this is both a policy for failure and the true cause of consumer harm.
Contact CSE today at 888-Join-CSE or visit us online at www.cse.org to help stop the government’s attempt to control the technology sector.
Erick Gustafson Director of Technology Policy Citizens for a Sound Economy