Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

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Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Does Software Patenting Make EU's Case Against Microsoft Irrelevant?

In an open letter to Charlie McCreevy, European Internal Market Commissioner, George Greve, the president of Free Software Foundation Europe writes:

"With the current Common Position on the directive
on "computer implemented inventions" -- adopted 7 March 2005 by the
European Council -- software patents will cover the interfaces and
file formats.

"The central issue of the antitrust case is the protocols that are
"used on the wire" -- without these, only Microsoft can write software
that is interoperable with it's desktop monopoly -- thus extending
their dominance into the workgroup server market. As FSFE has pointed
out in support of the Commission, this information is not secret
because it is valuable, it is valuable because it is secret.

"An analogy can be drawn by comparing computer networks to telephone
networks. What Microsoft has done is declare the specific frequencies
used to dial the numbers one and zero "multi-million dollar
investments". The European Commission rightly did not allow Microsoft
to confuse convention with invention.

"The current proposed directive grants patents on interfaces and file
formats, the digital equivalent of spoken languages, this proposal
supports monopolising conventions as if they were inventions. Allowing
Microsoft to extend its monopoly beyond the reach of any antitrust
commission in the world, it comes as little surprise that Microsoft is
strongly supportive of the current draft of the directive."

Link here for a full text of the letter.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog/2005/05/does_software_p.html

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