“You asked for it, now live with it.” That was, in essence, the message spread by Microsoft’s lobbyists after the European Court of First Instance upheld a landmark antitrust ruling against the world’s largest software firm on September 17th, dealing it the most stinging defeat in nearly a decade of antitrust litigation. Emboldened by this decision, Europe’s anti-monopoly squad will now go after other technology firms with high market shares, the lobbyists warn, forcing them to give up valuable intellectual property and curbing the incentive to innovate.Yet it is unlikely that that Neelie Kroes, the European Union (EU) competition commissioner, will now “be leading a prison march of the world’s most successful firms through her Brussels doors”, as one lobbyist put it. The judgment’s consequences are far-reaching, but in a different way. If it is not overturned — as The Economist went to press, Microsoft had not said whether it would make a final appeal — the firm will, in effect, lose much of its sovereignty over the virtual territory staked out by its Windows operating system.
Microsoft’s problems are of its own making
Microsoft was dealt a nasty blow by the European Court of First Instance this week. The court backed the European Commission’s ruling in 2004 that the software group abused its near monopoly in personal computers to stymie competitors.