(Washington, DC) — The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) today filed a motion to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to be admitted as an amicus in the case Microsoft Corporation v. United States of America. Microsoft is appealing the preliminary injunction against the company imposed by the U.S. District Court last year. CCIA believes that the ruling was proper and that Microsoft has violated terms of the 1995 Consent Decree by employing restrictive and anticompetitive licensing contracts. These tactics, we argued, are designed to improperly leverage its operating system monopoly to the Internet browser market sector, “to unfairly increase its share of the browser market by forcing OEMs to license its Internet Explorer as a condition of licensing Microsoft’s Windows operating systems.”
“This is another significant step in our efforts to protect competition, not only in the browser market, but in any sector of our dynamic industry where a dominant player may be compelled to leverage its position in an effort to control competition,” said Ed Black, CCIA President. “As we stated to the Court, without enforcement of the Consent Decree, Microsoft will continue to exercise its power to require computer manufacturers to license other Microsoft applications to the detriment of competition. We cannot allow this occur just when the digital information age promises to revolutionize our economy,” Black said.
In its filing, CCIA detailed the following points:
- The District Court was correct to impose the preliminary injunction immediately given the immediacy of Microsoft’s plans to tie the licensing of IE 4.0 to Windows 95 for the first time.
- The District Court’s injunction maintains the industry status quo, without Microsoft’s artificial imposition of unilateral contractual requirements tying the licensing of its Internet Explorer as a condition of licensing Microsoft’s Windows operating systems.
- The District Court was correct in imposing the injunction because it found that the Justice Department would likely succeed in proving that Microsoft’s licensing practices are not in compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree.
- There is clear and substantial evidence in support of the Justice Department’s request for relief that the Internet Explorer is a separate product distinguishable from Microsoft Windows 95 operating system.
- Enforcement of the Consent Decree and safeguarding competition will promote innovation and the availability of new technology to consumers in the browser market and related applications markets, such as electronic commerce.
- CCIA’s position as an industry advocate and the significance of the issues in this case warrant our participation to address the desirability of an open market for competition and innovation in the computer and communications industry. The U.S. Appeals Court has found merit in previous CCIA filings before the Court, including the review of the Microsoft Consent Decree and the 1973 hearings in support of the Tunney Act.
CCIA is not alone in its interest in Microsoft’s practices. In addition to the U.S. Justice Department, 11 state Attorneys General, the European Commission, antitrust officials in Japan and the Senate Judiciary Committee are all investigating Microsoft’s abuse of monopoly power. The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing tomorrow (Tuesday March 3, 1998) exploring issues related to market power and competition and antitrust in the software industry. CCIA recently appeared before the same committee providing testimony on Competition in the Digital Age.
For copies of CCIA’s brief, please contact Mark Lewis @ 202/783-0070. CCIA’s Ed Black and the Association’s antitrust counsel John H. Chapman are available for comment today and after Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing.
CCIA is an association of computer and communications industry firms, representing a broad cross-section of the industry. CCIA is dedicated to preserving full, free and open competition throughout our industry. Our members employ over a half million workers and generate annual revenues in excess of 200 billion dollars.