Monday, March 1, 2010

Microsoft, who knows a bit about the subject, encourages antitrust investigation of Google (MSFT,GOOG)

Good for MSFT.

On a company blog posting, Microsoft VP and Deputy General Counsel Dave Heiner encourages legislators and regulators to employ the same level of rigor toward Google's supposed monopolies that has previously been pointed Microsoft's direction. Heiner points out the rather "junior varsity" defense Google uses - that complaints lack merit because they are coming from duh?

It’s worth asking whether Google’s response really addresses the concerns that have been raised. Complaints in competition law cases usually come from competitors. (Believe me, I know: I’ve been chief competition counsel at Microsoft since 1994, so I’ve seen plenty of competitor complaints. Novell, when current Google CEO Eric Schmidt was at the helm, was never hesitant about complaining to regulators about Microsoft. Google hasn’t been shy about raising antitrust concerns about Microsoft in the last few years, either.) This is the way that competition law agencies function: They look to competitors in the first instance to understand how particular markets operate, the practices of dominant firms and the competitive significance of those practices.

And critically, Microsoft must walk a fine line. If they get too strident in their criticism of Google, it may results in more anti-trust regulation headed their way....
Microsoft would obviously be among the first to say that leading firms should not be punished for their success. Nor should firms be punished just because a particular business practice may harm a rival—competition on the merits can do that, too. That is a position that Microsoft has long espoused, and we’re sticking to it. Our concerns relate only to Google practices that tend to lock in business partners and content (like Google Books) and exclude competitors, thereby undermining competition more broadly. Ultimately the competition law agencies will have to decide whether or not Google’s practices should be seen as illegal.

Copyright 2010 AlphaNinja

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