On November 5, 1999, District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson declared one of the leading software companies in the world, a monopoly. The United States’ government has what are called, antitrust laws, which prevent a company from having a monopoly on a market. The US charged Microsoft with violations of these laws, stating that they were thwarting such competitors as, Netscape Navigator, and other web browsers. The US justice department has accused Microsoft of being “engaged in massive anticompetitive practices.” Bill Gates, owner of Microsoft, believes that the practices of Microsoft are in no way that of a monopoly, and are just forms of very aggressive competition.
It is estimated that any sanctions that Microsoft faces will be appealed for years to come, prolonging this case. Judge Penfield has not ruled on whether Microsoft has broken the antitrust laws set forth by the government; and it will be years before the judge sets the penalties for these infractions. The decision of Jackson was announced after the closing of the stock market, and the market is closed for a week after this decision.
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This is good news, because many economists feared a large dive due to this recent decision. The court evaluated thousands of pages of electronic mail, and 76 days of testimony, and came to the conclusion that Microsoft was partaking in anticompetitive practices. Jackson stated that “Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition.” The government will continue this case against Microsoft and continue to push for the penalties to be presented to the corporate giant. The ideas that the justice system has to punishing Microsoft range from, forcing the license of Windows to be distributed to other competitors, large fines, or breaking up Microsoft into smaller divisions.
The process of serving the punishment will take a very long time, but one can ensure that the penalties will be great. Boston Globe Online- http://www.boston.com/globe/ By: Peter J. Howe, Globe Staff 11/6/99Category: Business