Matthew Newman from Bloomberg News – Monopoly guidelines give EU ammo vs. Microsoft:
European regulators have justified their antitrust case against Microsoft in new guidelines on policing companies’ abuse of a dominant market share.
The latest dispute between Microsoft and European officials focuses on trade secrets. In a 72-page “discussion paper” on monopolies, the European Commission, the antitrust enforcer of the 25-nation European Union, said trade secrets deserve less protection than other intellectual-property rights, such as patents.
“They’re using the guidelines to enhance their chances to win the appeal,” said Christian Ahlborn, a partner at Linklaters in London who represents Microsoft. “Copying certain bits of Microsoft into the discussion paper is an attempt to conceal the weaknesses of the case.”
The new guidelines specifically exclude trade secrets, such as the source code for Windows, from having the same protection as other intellectual-property rights.
But they deny any ulterior motives:
Michael Albers, who was in charge of drafting the guidelines, said the commission’s paper wasn’t written to justify its position in the Microsoft case.
“This is a much wider area than just the Microsoft case,” Albers said Monday. “It’s taking Microsoft and expanding some of the elements and applying those ideas to other kinds of abuses.”
The article has more as does the European Commission press release which links to the document.
And while we’re on the subject of the European Commission, Matthew Newman also reports EU Proposes Easing Civil Lawsuits to Help Antitrust Enforcement:
European Union regulators proposed encouraging victims of illegal monopolies and cartels to sue for damages, potentially doubling the cost of violating EU competition law and opening companies to U.S.-style class-action lawsuits.
In the latest paper, dated Dec. 19, the regulator outlines barriers to private enforcement and offers options on how to lower obstacles to filing civil lawsuits. The commission may propose measures to improve the situation after consulting with the public.
More by following the link and in the European Commission press release.