The Microsoft Judgment and its Implications for Competition Policy Towards Dominant Firms in Europe
31 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2008 Last revised: 11 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 1, 2008
The European Court of First Instance (CFI) rejected Microsoft's grounds for annulling the Commission's Decision that the software maker had abused its dominant position in computer operating systems by refusing to supply certain protocols for interoperating with rivals' computers and by tying Windows Media Player to its Windows operating system. This article argues that the Court's judgment continues the form-based approach it has followed for four decades to abuse of dominance cases and is inconsistent with the Court's emphasis on coherent economic reasoning in merger clearance reviews, thereby reinforcing a divide between these two critical parts of European competition policy. The CFI's approach also continues its historical adherence to focusing on market structure and putting aside direct evidence of adverse effects on consumer welfare. In particular, the CFI did not embrace parts of the Commission's Decision against Microsoft that advocated an effects-based approach. At the same time the CFI's judgment expands the possibilities for finding an abuse of dominance by weakening key prongs of the Bronner/Magill/IMS exceptional circumstances test for refusal to supply and adopts a separate products test for tying that has illogical implications for many standard cases.
Keywords: Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, European Commission, Antitrust, Article 82, Tying, Refusal to Supply
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