Software Development as an Antitrust Remedy: Lessons from the Enforcement of the Microsoft Communications Protocol*

Interoperability and Competition Policy and Antitrust

Article Snapshot

Author(s)

Seldon J. Childers and William H. Page

Source

Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2007

Summary

This paper assesses the remedy in the United States v Microsoft antitrust case.

Policy Relevance

Courts are likely to fail in overseeing and designing complex remedies. Competition policies that ask firms to provide services for which there is no market demand waste resources and harm everyone.

Main Points

  • The remedies designed in the antitrust case against Microsoft included a program to help Microsoft’s competitors build products to compete with the Windows operating system.
    • Microsoft must explain how Windows software communicates with other software, the “communications protocol licensing program”.

  • In the United States, the appeals court rejected several other proposed remedies, because they were not targeted at correcting harmful acts.

 

  • The protocol licensing program has failed.
    • The court created a complex program it could not effectively supervise.
    • The program was directed at aspects of Microsoft’s behavior that were either legal, or, if illegal, did not harm competition.
    • Microsoft must provide a service for which there is no market demand or need.

* Full title: Software Development as an Antitrust Remedy: Lessons from the Enforcement of the Microsoft Communications Protocol Licensing Requirement

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