A Tale of Two EC Cases: IBM and Microsoft

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John Vickers, Apr 24, 2008

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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