The article in which I am doing my article review on is entitled, “Microsoft Lawyers Meet With U.S. Government, States” by David Lawsky. I found this article in Yahoo!News on the internet. In this paper, I will discuss the court case of the U.S. vs. Microsoft. Some of the legal issues I will discuss and illustrate are monopolies, The Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Act.
The U.S. government has alleged that Microsoft holds monopoly power in the market for personal computer operating systems and has abused that power in order to preserve its influence and extend it to other businesses. One word that stands out in these allegations is monopoly.
A monopoly is being the only business that offers a certain product. Pricing regulations usually fall hand in hand with monopolies. A monopolistic company can not assign a price to a product that is outlandishly high. Our government makes sure that companies abide by this by following the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The Sherman Antitrust Act was passed in 1890 and prohibits a monopoly or restraint of trade in interstate commerce. The government believes that Microsoft is “tying” sales on buyers. This occurs when a buyer wants to purchase one product but the seller makes him to buy an additional product that he does not want. Let us take another look at this argument against Microsoft.
Netscape is claiming that their internet browser is not included in Microsoft’s software package with Windows 95 or 98. Microsoft has their own browser, which is included in their product. Netscape does not have their own operating system to include their browser. Is Microsoft using a monopolistic approach by not including Netscape? That is another part of this case that the courts will have to decide.
Our next area of law to jump into is The Clayton Act. It was enacted in 1914 as an amendment to the Sherman Antitrust Act. It prohibits price-fixing conspiracies in interstate commerce. The Clayton Act was amended in 1950 to state that “no corporation shall acquire the whole or part of the assets of another corporation, where the effect of such an acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.” The Clayton Act may not directly impact this case but, will be mentioned time and again with this case because of the innuendoes of Microsoft trying to become a monopoly.
This article was dated March 30,1999. I have yet to date heard of the verdict in this case. I believe that Microsoft will have to give in sometime soon. The government is pressing them and has levied a million dollar a day fine against Microsoft. This fine may have been lifted sometime before this article. Microsoft had an original product with their operating system but they are hurting other little companies by not including their software in their packages.
The lesson I have learned from this article is if you become a big company, do not forget the little companies around you. Too many companies push little companies around and they get away with it. The government needs to put a stop to it. Hopefully, U.S. vs. Microsoft will be the beginning of that end.