History Repeats Itself

DQI Bureau
New Update

Some 222 years ago, 13 rebel

states, in what is today the United States, fought for independence from a seemingly

invincible global imperial power. This month, another 13 states appear to be rebelling

against a new kind of global imperial power, Microsoft.


In what seems to be a highly

questionable legal move, the attorney generals for the 13 states want to block Microsoft

from selling Windows 98 in their home states, following the expected filing of antitrust

lawsuits against the company in each state.

fa1.JPG (12667 bytes) height="204">Can California, Texas, or any

other state turn back trucks loaded with Windows 98 or computers that have the software

pre-loaded onto their hard drives?

If there is any precedent for

such a move, it hasn't come to my attention and I've been looking a real hard! Even if

they filed their lawsuits, the State Attorney Generals of the 13 rebels states will have

an uphill battle convincing the courts in their states to go alongwith the move. Likely,

most judges will not grant the states' requests for an injunction against the product.

Injunctions are rarely granted because the plaintiff will have to show that the case

against a defendant is so air-tight, there is little doubt about the outcome.


In Microsoft's case, there is

not only a heap of legitimate doubt to the argument that the company is actively seeking

to monopolize the market, but also the firm has such vast resources at its disposal that

it can put up defenses that are likely to overwhelm the individual state attorneys.

The analogy some of the

Attorney Generals are drawing to the $ 325 billion tobacco settlement they negotiated last

year is also questionable. Millions of people aren't dying from the use of the Windows

operating system, with or without the Internet Explorer attached. And the states are not

footing billions of dollars in annual medical bills to care for sufferers of

Windows-related ailments. In other words, there really is no firm basis for the legal

actions planned by the individual states.

Or sure, some local companies

may find it hard to compete with Microsoft. But when you are locked up in a very small

room with a gorilla, chances are somebody is not going to feel comfortable. For the state

Attorney Generals to try to grand stand on behalf of the local industry is a bit far



More likely, some, if not a

majority of the state officers, are in it purely for their 15 minutes of media fame, which

they may hope will launch their careers into a higher political orbit.

As for the federal government,

should it decide to file a new antitrust lawsuit of its own, the case is likely to drag

well into the next millennium.

Don't be surprised to see many

millions of Microsoft dollars end up in the campaign coffers of candidates for the year

2000 Presidential race. Candidates who will be friendly to the Microsoft cause and in

position to call off the Justice Department's current relentless pursuit of the software