As much as I dislike their products, the attention paid to Microsoft by controlling legal authorities here (during the Reno years) and in Europe have been repulsive, anti-market moves against a company that wishes to protect its intellectual property. Europe sounds a lot like Don Barzini in The Godfather:
Times have changed. It’s not like the Old Days — when we can do anything we want. A refusal is not the act of a friend. If Don Corleone had all the judges, and the politicians in New York, then he must share them, or let us others use them. He must let us draw the water from the well. Certainly he can — present a bill for such services; after all — we are not Communists.
So here is the decision from Europe:
LUXEMBOURG (AP) – Microsoft lost its appeal of a European antitrust order Monday that obliges the technology giant to share communications code with rivals, sell a copy of Windows without Media Player and pay a $613 million fine – the largest ever by EU regulators.
The EU Court of First Instance ruled against Microsoft on both parts of the case, saying the European Commission was correct in concluding that Microsoft was guilty of monopoly abuse in trying to use its power over desktop computers to muscle into server software.
It also said regulators had clearly demonstrated that selling media software with Windows had damaged rivals.
“The court observes that it is beyond dispute that in consequence of the tying consumers are unable to acquire the Windows operating system without simultaneously acquiring Windows Media Player,” it said.
“In that regard, the court considers that neither the fact that Microsoft does not charge a separate price for Windows Media Player nor the fact that consumers are not obliged to use that Media Player is irrelevant.”
In its 248-page ruling, the court upheld both the Commission’s argument and its order for Microsoft to hand over information on server protocols to rivals. Microsoft had claimed these were protected by patents and the Commission was forcing it to give away valuable intellectual property at little or no cost.
The court confirmed “that the necessary degree of interoperability required by the Commission is well founded and that there is no inconsistency between that degree of interoperability and the remedy imposed by the Commission.
Read the entire ludicrous thing here. As someone who has been in the software biz for many years, this decision is an ominous shot across the bow to anyone doing business in Europe. My word of warning: Look out Apple; they may be coming after you next…