Mario Monti rebuttal?

Alex Hudson home at
Wed Mar 24 23:47:43 UTC 2004

A bit more detail from the EU:|0|RAPID&lg=EN;

(beware, long link above - it might have split)

Conduct remedies are:
      * Microsoft is required, within 120 days, to disclose complete and
        accurate interface documentation which would allow non-Microsoft
        work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows
        PCs and servers.
      * Microsoft is required, within 90 days, to offer to PC
        manufacturers a version of its Windows client PC operating
        system without WMP.

The discussion of the interfaces specifically states two things. First,
it does not require source-code disclosure, only interface
documentation. I would think it fairly likely that interfaces would be
either uncopyrightable, or of extremely low commercial value (you can
pick up books in shops full of W32 interfaces for tens of pounds ;). I'm
not sure whether or not a patent right could subsist in an interface
either, I can't really think of a reason why it might. 

Second, they state "[If] any of this interface information [is
Microsoft] intellectual property [..], Microsoft would be entitled to
reasonable remuneration". So, MS' IP rights cannot stop them from
publishing the document, we must renumerate them for their rights. Given
the lack of rights in interfaces (in my opinion; see above :), I'm not
sure the remuneration would amount to much.

Also, the original complaint was not to do with WMP bundling - that's
something Super Mario took on during the investigation. The interfaces
and interoperation is the important part; I think the EU is doing the
WMP because a) it's probably a slam-dunk legally, b) it sets the
precedent that MS are not allowed to use their desktop market share to
leverage their other products. Remember, Microsoft were found guilty of
exactly the same thing in the US - they may have plea-bargained their
way to a cosy settlement, but the judgement stuck. The EU is unlikely to
be as kind, because they're not a native company. And if the WMP
judgement is made to stick over here, other judgements can be made more
quickly (and there are others in the works, apparently).

So, I don't really think it's a "pat on the back".



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