If you can't beat them, fine them (The EU's wrong policy on Microsoft)

While I’ve agreed with many of the decisions the EU has made with respect to Microsoft, I have to admit that I don’t agree with this one. From the article:

Neelie Kroes, antitrust chief for the European Commission, tried again last week to show Microsoft Corp. who’s boss. She declared that the software giant is overcharging other companies for access to technology that, in her opinion, doesn’t represent “significant innovation,” and threatened another massive fine: perhaps €1 billion or more. Ms. Kroes’s new assertion of power to assess innovation and to regulate its pricing should get the attention of businesses everywhere. When government officials feel comfortable second-guessing markets on such decisions, no business is safe and no property right secure.

Things like this should be decided by the market, not by Governments or courts. When a monopoly abuses its power, that’s one thing. In some situations like that, the court is the only one who has enough leverage to remedy things. I don’t think anyone, be they Open Source proponents or proprietary vendors, want courts and judges deciding what is “significant innovation” and what value should be placed on it. We’ll have to see how this plays out.


2 Responses to If you can't beat them, fine them (The EU's wrong policy on Microsoft)

  1. Anonymous says:

    > I don't think anyone, [..] want courts and judges deciding
    > what is “significant innovation”
    this might be true in a world without software patents, but in this world we have patents granted for “significant innovation” (by “judges”) and those hurt a lot…
    I don't like software patents. There should (must!) be a way to “cancel” them if they where granted inadequately. But what to do if this happens “outside”? Could the EU commision challenge a patent in the US? I think not. They do “regulations” with fines.
    This decision can and will be appealed against, so you are right we will see what will happen…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don't like software patents either. This isn't really about software patents though. I do agree with the EU ruling that ordered Microsoft to disclose its protocols to rivals. They were abusing a monopoly position. It just makes me nervous to have Government decide what innovation is and how much it's worth.

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