EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.06.13

Microsoft Fine is Fine, But What Else Will be Done? (Updated: FSFE Says EU Fine Not Enough as Punishment for Microsoft’s Abuses)

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A $730,000,000 fine for Microsoft’s Web browser abuses and refusal to obey the law (or comply with penalties)

AS EXPECTED, a fine for Microsoft to pay for its abuses was to be announced today, as even the state media (in the United States) stated today:

On Wednesday, the European Union is expected to impose a large fine on Microsoft for failing to give users of the company’s Windows software a choice of Internet browsers. It would be the first time that European regulators had punished a company for neglecting to comply with the terms of an antitrust settlement, and it could signal a tougher approach to enforcing deals in other antitrust cases, including one involving Google.

Microsoft and officials at the European Commission reached an antitrust settlement in 2009 that called on the company to give Windows users in Europe a choice of Web browsers instead of pushing them to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. But Microsoft failed to offer users such a choice for more than a year — apparently without anyone at the company or the commission noticing.

The fine is now known, and it’s less than a billion dollars, far less than Microsoft has gained owing to this illegally-obtained monopoly:

Europe hits Microsoft with $730M fine over browser choice ‘error’

Microsoft was naughty and got caught, and now it has to pay handsomely. Here’s the rundown on what happened, why it mattered, and why it may not happen again in quite the same way.

Be prepared for Microsoft apologists and PR folks to vilify the European authorities over it. As a little bit of background, consider reading:

  1. Huge Fines for Microsoft Browser Offences
  2. Cablegate: European Commission Worried About Microsoft’s Browser Ballot Screen Being Inappropriate
  3. Microsoft’s Browser Ballot is Broken Again and Internet Explorer 8 is Critically Flawed
  4. Microsoft’s Ballot Screen is a Farce, Decoy
  5. A Ballot Screen is Not Justice, Internet Explorer Still Compromises Users’ PCs
  6. Microsoft Not Only Broke the Law in Europe, So Browser Ballot Should Become International
  7. Browser Ballot Critique
  8. Microsoft’s Fake “Choice” Campaign is Back
  9. Microsoft Claimed to be Cheating in Web Browsers Ballot
  10. Microsoft Loses Impact in the Web Despite Unfair Ballot Placements
  11. Given Choice, Customers Reject Microsoft
  12. Microsoft is Still Cheating in Browser Ballot — Claim
  13. Microsoft Does Not Obey the Law

As justice is too slow, the fine is too little and it’s too late. Just watch this decades-old antitrust case still going on, as Groklaw noted the other day:

A date for oral argument in the WordPerfect antitrust battle, Novell v Microsoft, has been set. It’s May 6, at 9 AM in Courtroom II at the Byron White US Courthouse in Denver, Colorado.

Yes, long after WordPerfect had been made virtually dead judges failed to rule indefinitely and no justice was ever restored. Microsoft has made many billions using the office suite monopoly it illegally obtained. And Novell has been robbed naked by Microsoft since then, rendering one side in this legal battle a lot less potent.

The moral of the story is, if you are a big corporation like Microsoft or Goldman Sachs, the cost of committing crimes is just a minor cost of doing business and it pays off in the long run. Crime is like an investment and nobody ever goes to jail if you are “too big (or groomed) to fail”. The following caricature (no attribution known) expresses this well.

Monopoly

Update: Linking to reports like this one about the fine, the FSFE’s president says:

Microsoft just can’t avoid getting into trouble with competition watchdogs.

Today, the European Commission slapped the company with a fine of EUR 561 million (ca. USD 731 million) for breaching a 2009 settlement over the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. Under this agreement, Microsoft promised to display a “browser choice” screen on Windows installs in Europe, inviting users to choose other browsers besides the company’s own program.

[...]

Faced with a blatant breach of the agreed settlement, the Commission had no choice but to act decisively. The alternative of doing nothing, or imposing a minimal token fine, would have made European competition regulators look like paper tigers.

As Microsoft has now, again, learned to its cost, the EC demands to be taken seriously on such things.

Yet while large in absolute terms, the fine amounts to 1% of the company’s revenue in 2012. There is a danger that companies of this size see regulatory interference as a mere cost of doing business, rather than as an impulse to mend their ways. To achieve this, more forceful measures may be necessary, such as excluding offenders from public procurement for a limited amount of time.

A punishment “such as excluding offenders from public procurement for a limited amount of time” may be an interesting option, but still, it is too soft on people who knowingly abuse the law. Why not suggest jail terms? Is it too radical a suggestion to put white-collar criminals in prison in the age of rampant financial abuses and illicit wars? Have we lost a sense of moral by putting only poor people in jail (class incarceration)?

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 21/11/2017: LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.2.1 MR, Mesa 17.3.0 RC5

    Links for the day



  2. PTAB Inter Partes Reviews (“IPRs”) Are Essential in an Age When One Can Get Sued for Merely Mocking a Patent

    The battle over the right to criticise particular patents has gotten very real and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) fought it until the end; this is why we need granted patents to be criticised upon petitions too (and often invalidated as a result)



  3. Chinese Patent Policy Continues to Mimic All the Worst Elements of the American System

    China is becoming what the United States used to be in terms of patents, whereas the American system is adopting saner patent policies that foster real innovation whilst curtailing mass litigation



  4. Links 20/11/2017: Why GNU/Linux is Better Than Windows, Another Linus Torvalds Rant

    Links for the day



  5. “US Inventor” is a “Bucket of Deplorables” Not Worthy of Media Coverage

    Jan Wolfe of Reuters treats a fringe group called “US Inventor” as though it's a conservative voice rather than a bunch of patent extremists pretending to be inventors



  6. Team Battistelli's Attacks on the EPO Boards of Appeal Predate the Illegal Sanctions Against a Judge

    A walk back along memory lane reveals that Battistelli has, all along, suppressed and marginalised DG3 members, in order to cement total control over the entire Organisation, not just the Office



  7. PTAB is Safe, the Patent Extremists Just Try to Scandalise It Out of Sheer Desperation

    The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), which gave powers to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) through inter partes reviews (IPRs), has no imminent threats, not potent ones anyway



  8. Update on the EPO's Crackdown on the Boards of Appeal

    Demand of 35% increases from the boards serves to show that Battistelli now does to the 'independent' judges what he already did to examiners at the Office



  9. The Lobbyists Are Trying to Subvert US Law in Favour of Patent Predators

    Mingorance, Kappos, Underweiser and other lobbyists for the software patents agenda (paid by firms like Microsoft and IBM) keep trying to undo progress, notably the bans on software patents



  10. Patent Trolls Based in East Texas Are Affected Very Critically by TC Heartland

    The latest situation in Texas (United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in particular), which according to new analyses is the target of legal scrutiny for the 'loopholes' it provided to patent trolls in search of easy legal battles



  11. Alice Remains a Strong Precedential Decision and the Media Has Turned Against Software Patents

    The momentum against the scourge of software patents and the desperation among patent 'professionals' (people who don't create/develop/invent) is growing



  12. Harm Still Caused by Granted Software Patents

    A roundup of recent (past week's) announcements, including legal actions, contingent upon software patents in an age when software patents bear no real legitimacy



  13. Links 18/11/2017: Raspberry Digital Signage 10, New Nano

    Links for the day



  14. 23,000 Posts

    23,000 blog posts milestone reached in 11 years



  15. BlackBerry Cannot Sell Phones and Apple Looks Like the Next BlackBerry (a Pile of Patents)

    The lifecycle of mobile giants seems to typically end in patent shakedown, as Apple loses its business to Android just like Nokia and BlackBerry lost it to Apple



  16. EFF and CCIA Use Docket Navigator and Lex Machina to Identify 'Stupid Patents' (Usually Software Patents That Are Not Valid)

    In spite of threats and lawsuits from bogus 'inventors' whom they criticise, EFF staff continues the battle against patents that should never have been granted at all



  17. The Australian Productivity Commission Shows the Correct Approach to Setting Patent Laws and Scope

    Australia views patents on software as undesirable and acts accordingly, making nobody angry except a bunch of law firms that profited from litigation and patent maximalism



  18. EPO 'Business' From the United States Has Nosedived and UPC is on Its Death Throes

    Benoît Battistelli and Elodie Bergot further accelerate the ultimate demise of the EPO (getting rid of experienced and thus 'expensive' staff), for which there is no replacement because there is a monopoly (which means Europe will suffer severely)



  19. Links 17/11/2017: KDE Applications 17.12, Akademy 2018 Plans

    Links for the day



  20. Today's EPO and Team UPC Do Not Work for Europe But Actively Work Against Europe

    The tough reality that some Europeans actively work to undermine science and technology in Europe because they personally profit from it and how this relates to the Unitary Patent (UPC), which is still aggressively lobbied for, sometimes by bribing/manipulating the media, academia, and public servants



  21. Links 16/11/2017: WordPress 4.9 and GhostBSD 11.1 Released

    Links for the day



  22. The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) is Rightly Upset If Not Shocked at What Battistelli and Bergot Are Doing to the Office

    The EPO's dictatorial management is destroying everything that's left (of value) at the Office while corrupting academia and censoring discussion by threatening those who publish comments (gagging its own staff even when that staff posts anonymously)



  23. EPO Continues to Disobey the Law on Software Patents in Europe

    Using the same old euphemisms, e.g. "computer-implemented inventions" (or "CII"), the EPO continues to grant patents which are clearly and strictly out of scope



  24. Links 16/11/2017: Tails 3.3, Deepin 15.5 Beta

    Links for the day



  25. Benoît Battistelli and Elodie Bergot Have Just Ensured That EPO Will Get Even More Corrupt

    Revolving door-type tactics will become more widespread at the EPO now that the management (Battistelli and his cronies) hires for low cost rather than skills/quality and minimises staff retention; this is yet another reason to dread anything like the UPC, which prioritises litigation over examination



  26. Australia is Banning Software Patents and Shelston IP is Complaining as Usual

    The Australian Productivity Commission, which defies copyright and patent bullies, is finally having policies put in place that better serve the interests of Australians, but the legal 'industry' is unhappy (as expected)



  27. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Defended by Technology Giants, by Small Companies, by US Congress and by Judges, So Why Does USPTO Make It Less Accessible?

    In spite of the popularity of PTAB and the growing need/demand for it, the US patent system is apparently determined to help it discriminate against poor petitioners (who probably need PTAB the most)



  28. Declines in Patent Quality at the EPO and 'Independent' Judges Can No Longer Say a Thing

    The EPO's troubling race to the bottom (of patent quality) concerns the staff examiners and the judges, but they cannot speak about it without facing rather severe consequences



  29. The EPO is Now Corrupting Academia, Wasting Stakeholders' Money Lying to Stakeholders About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The Unified Patent Court/Unitary Patent (UPC) is a dying project and the EPO, seeing that it is going nowhere fast, has resorted to new tactics and these tactics cost a lot of money (at the expense of those who are being lied to)



  30. Links 15/11/2017: Fedora 27 Released, Linux Mint Has New Betas

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts