Principi tecnici ed economici per l'analisi del mercato delle piattaforme software: Il Caso Microsoft Europeo (Technical and Economic Elements for the Analysis of Software Platforms Market: the European Microsoft Case)
Concorrenza e Mercato, Vol. 12, 2004
52 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2012
Date Written: November 28, 2004
To understand the strategies governing competition in the market for software platforms, it is necessary to consider three distinct but interconnected fields: technological, economic and legal.
The first part of this paper is devoted to the synthetic description of some indispensable technical principles. Then I'll describe some relevant economic issues, focusing on the relationship between a quasi-monopoly controlling a software platform and the producers of complementary software. Antitrust cases concerning Microsoft will provide several examples.
In the second part of the paper, the basic technical and legal tools will be used to contextualize the recent (March 2004) Decision of the European Commission concerning Microsoft. My analysis will try to demonstrate that this Decision is coherent with both the basic economics of software markets and previous decisions concerning Microsoft Cases taken by US authorities (despite the critical attitude of the US administration with respect to the Decision of the Commission): Moreover, I'll argue that American and European measures concerning Microsoft are actually complementary.
The last part of the paper concludes signalling an inconsistency between the technical/economic field and the legal one. In particular, since copyright protection of software is considered to be quite weak (as it is, indeed) legal systems have a tendency to "compensate" this weakness reinforcing industrial secret and limiting decompilation (reverse engineering of software): this approach has a severe side effect in reinforcing the already strong position of platform controllers (and -at the same time- it doesn't seem to be particularly helpful in reinforcing copyright as a legal tool to protect investments made in other fields of the software industry).
Keywords: intellectual property, antitrust, competition policy, software platforms, abuse of dominant position, network effects, interoperability, Microsoft
JEL Classification: K21, L41, O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation