Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Tale of Two EC Cases: IBM and Microsoft

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

John Vickers
of the University of Oxford Economics Department tells A Tale of Two EC Cases: IBM and Microsoft in the latest issue of Competition Policy International.

ABSTRACT: Arguably the largest abuse of dominance case in Europe before Microsoft was the IBM case of the early 1980s. Both cases were about interoperability and bundling, and both followed litigation in the United States. Unlike Microsoft, the European IBM case was settled without a decision being taken, so the public record is thin.

This paper looks back at the case, and the increasingly competitive environment surrounding IBM, and contrasts it with the situation of Microsoft. The September 2007 judgment of the Court of First Instance in Microsoft is then discussed. That the Commission won on interoperability is welcomed, but not the apparent ease of its victory, which may have left unclear limiting principles for the future.

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