Is it all over, finally? Bill Gates and Microsoft have had a tough time. They’ve been in the courts for umpteen years now, hounded for alleged breaches of anti-trust law. Anti-trust law is so fuzzy that even ever-lower prices and higher productivity can’t save you from the charge of harming the consumer.
In the present case, Microsoft was charged with such heinous crimes as “bundling” one part of its technology with another part of technology. Like combining shoelaces with shoes, or cars with tires. The kind of thing consumers like because it makes life easier for them. Microsoft was also accused of signing contracts with terms that some of its competitors didn’t like.
There is, of course, a big difference between violating a contract that both parties have agreed to and abiding by a contract both parties have agreed to. Needless to say, if a business partner believes Microsoft has violated a contract, he can take Microsoft to court and seek redress without any involvement of the Justice Department. And that has happened. But the Justice Department sued Microsoft not to deal with any such specific alleged wrong, but just because competitors like Netscape and AOL wanted to bring Microsoft down a peg or two. And last year, a vindictive judge even ordered a punitive breakup of the company.
That’s right. Ordered its destruction. For being too successful. An appeals court has now reversed that order and sent the case back to be retried. Let’s hope the new Justice Department will drop the case, and let Microsoft get back to work.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.