Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Fourth 'Patent Deal' was with Europe... and the Sixth Deal That Won't be

Europe's agreement on patents predates the Turobolinux announcement

Having watched how Microsoft included patents in its deal with then EU (more on this in the next post), it is worth pointing out that the US won't extend antitrust sanctions, despite rising opposition and the recent decision in Europe.

Here is the latest:

The U.S. Department of Justice said it will not seek to extend the restrictions placed on Microsoft Corp.'s business practices following its antitrust settlement with the U.S. government in 2002.

Many of the restrictions are due to expire Nov. 12, and last week several U.S. states filed motions in favor of extending them for a further five years. Four of those states -- New York, Maryland, Louisiana and Florida -- had previously said they opposed an extension.

The DOJ had also opposed the extension, and on Friday it made it clear that it would not be making a turnabout like the four U.S. states.

[...]

The DOJ didn't explain its decision Friday. In August it said it felt the judgment had been successful in preventing Microsoft from continuing its exclusionary behavior.

The states who favor an extension disagree. They say operating systems haven't evolved as quickly as people thought they would in 2002, and that Microsoft could still use the dominance of Internet Explorer to choke competitors in the emerging Web 2.0 world.

A status hearing that will likely address extending the restrictions is scheduled for Nov. 6 with District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

The other states pushing for an extension are California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Separately last month the DOJ raised hackles in Europe by criticizing the European Union's decision to reject Microsoft's appeal of its antitrust decision there.


So, complaints are simply being ignored and no reason is even given. One ought to know that the U.S. Department of Justice has already been caught leaning the Microsoft way in unlawful ways. Examples include:

Microsoft Finds Legal Defender in Justice

Nearly a decade after the government began its landmark effort to break up Microsoft, the Bush administration has sharply changed course by repeatedly defending the company both in the United States and abroad against accusations of anticompetitive conduct, including the recent rejection of a complaint by Google.

[...]

In the most striking recent example of the policy shift, the top antitrust official at the Justice Department last month urged state prosecutors to reject a confidential antitrust complaint filed by Google that is tied to a consent decree that monitors Microsoft's behavior. Google has accused Microsoft of designing its latest operating system, Vista, to discourage the use of Google's desktop search program, lawyers involved in the case said.


Remember what happened when the EU ruled against Microsoft? The US government got involved in a fashion that it must never embrace. Here is the response that came from Neelie Kroes:

Kroes said that it was "unacceptable" that a representative of the US judiciary should criticise a court of law outside his jurisdiction.

“It is absolutely not done,” she told journalists on Wednesday.

“The European commission does not pass judgement on US rulings and we should expect the same from the US.”


Not only Europe complained about the DoJ's gross bias in favour of Microsoft. Here is what the American Antitrust Institute had to say.

The AAI comments on the European Court of First Instance's upholding of the EC's Microsoft decision, taking the USDOJ to task for poor diplomacy and mistaken policy in its criticism of the EC.


If you though the DoJ was embarrassing enough, have a look at these other Microsoft-funded lobbying arms, ACT and CompTIA. Here is what happened upon Microsoft's legal defeat in Europe:

Microsoft may have lost in court, but it quickly tried to win the war of media reaction via organisations like CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association and ACT (the Association for Competitive Technology) which both intervened in court on its side.


"To make matters worse, the government as a whole was caught lobbying for Microsoft in Europe."This is not the first time that ACT and CompTIA attack the EU. Both are funded by Microsoft, but have fancy names that hide their motives and bias. ACT and CompTIA also attack Free software, Linux, the GNU GPL, various products that rival Microsoft's, OpenDocument format, and more. To make matters worse, the government as a whole was caught lobbying for Microsoft in Europe.

Who could ever forget heavy lobbying (bullying) in Florida, lobbying by Steve Ballmer, and lobbying by Bill Gates? They seem to be in total control of the government. There are many more, including Bingham McCutchen.

Microsoft Paid Paid Bingham McCutchen $160,000 to Lobby Federal Gov't in First Half of 2007


There are many, many more, but it would take time to fetch the references and post them here.

At the end of the day, the situation in Europe is a poor one. Microsoft made its agreement incompatible with the GNU GPL and included patent provisions. In the US, there won't even be an (sixth) agreement because the government keeps offering Microsoft 'protection', which is mutual. Hopefully you can see that politics simply cannot be separated from what ought to have been a purely technical and litigious discussion. There's sheer abuse in the system.

Related articles:



E-mails released by the committee show that Abramoff, often with the knowledge of the groups' leaders, exploited the tax-exempt status and leveraged the stature of the organizations to build support among conservatives for legislation or government action sought by clients including Microsoft Corp., mutual fund company DH2 Inc., Primedia Inc.'s Channel One Network, and Brown-Forman, maker of Jack Daniel's whiskey.




Continuing on the theme of which politicians are receiving money from who. Here is a list of candidates who took money from MSFT.




Microsoft took first place with $651,100 given out, while Hewlett-Packard gave only $185,550, and Gateway gave a paltry $2,000. Microsoft's donations certainly illustrate well the true size of the company and the extent of its political concerns.

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