Antitrust Act Essay Research Paper Antitrust Acts

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Antitrust Act Essay, Research Paper Anti-trust Acts in the Information Age As many people have noticed, recently there has been a huge focus in the media on Bill Gates, and his huge Microsoft Corporation. This past Friday, May 22, 1998, a federal judge combined two lawsuits and set a trial date for September 8, 1998. This trial date will address a government request for a preliminary injunction concerning Windows 98 as well as broader issues. The Sherman Anti-trust Act was passed in 1890. Then in 1914 the Clayton Act was passed to help with Anti-trust Cases. Anti-trust Lawsuits are few and far between, but recently cases against Microsoft are stacking up all around the world. In 1890 the Sherman Anti-trust Act was passed, but it was not until much later that it was enforced.

The Act stated “every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations.” The Sherman Anti-trust act was too vague and too difficult to enforce. The Clayton Act of 1914 helped this problem by making a more specific attack on monopolies. Things like predatory price-cutting, price discrimination, and acquisition of stock in a competing company with intent to destroy competition all became illegal. John D. Rockefeller is a prime example of monopolies in US History. By buying out competitors, or driving them out of business he obtained nearly 100 percent of the market in oil refining. The Standard Oil Company was eventually forced to dissolve into smaller companies after the

case Standard Oil Company vs. United States, 221 U.S. 1 (1911). Before this case the Anti-trust Laws had not been put to much use, which was not to the benefit of consumers. Now the spotlight is on Microsoft Corporation, and their apparent attempt to take over the Internet browser market. Concerns aroused recently because of the expected release of Windows 98, which uses Microsoft Internet Explorer in almost every application it runs. The US government has seemingly acknowledged Microsoft’s monopoly of operating systems and let it go by because of lack of competition in the market. But now new issues are at stake, should Microsoft be allowed to expand its already almost monopoly into yet another field in the computer industry? With the incorporation of Microsoft Internet

Explorer into the Microsoft operating system Windows 98, Netscape Communications Corporation felt vulnerable, and filed complaints with the Justice Department. Once the investigations were initiated, it seemed flocks of people jumped the bandwagon to attack the alleged Microsoft Corporation Monopoly. 20 State Attorney Generals and the District of Columbia, along with the Justice Department have filed against Microsoft Corporation. Japan has also filed an Antitrust Lawsuit against Microsoft. It seems that everywhere Microsoft is, there looms a bit of concern for the consumers and their futures. Currently 90 percent of the world’s personal computers run on Microsoft operating systems. The remaining ten percent of the industry is divided between Apple’s Macintosh, IBM’s OS/2,

and Unix. The federal and state antitrust regulators are arguing that Microsoft has illegally used the popularity of its operating systems to eliminate its competition in the software industry. Many economists feel that these lawsuits against Microsoft Corporation could be as revolutionary as those against Bell Telephone in 1984 and John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company in 1911. Microsoft Corporation however, disagrees, arguing that the changes being demanded by federal and state government will take months to perform and would cause the software to be useless. Microsoft clings strongly to their beliefs that Windows 98 cannot succeed without Internet Explorer. “Such an operating system – which would take many months (if not years) to develop and test – would bear