Microsoft v. Google in EU

March 31st, 2011

Microsoft has filed a formal antitrust complaint with the European Union against Google. Keith Hylton, an antitrust-law expert and the Honorable Paul J. Liacos Profesor of Law of BU’s School of Law, offers the following comments:

“There’s no irony here, though Microsoft counsel Brad Smith is clearly referring to perception rather than reality. The reality is that both Google and Microsoft have been complaining to antitrust authorities about each other for quite a long time now. For example, Google’s complaints forced Microsoft to change its browser options in the EU two years ago.

“Antitrust has become a competitive weapon used by both companies. This is troubling because you never know quite what to make of the complaints. No doubt competition can be enhanced by forcing a dominant firm to make it easer for a rival to compete against it, but incentives to invest, which matter more in the long term, may be dulled.

“I remain of the opinion that the U.S. courts have it right in generally refusing to be dragged into complaints about duties to help rivals out. But the EC is happy to jump right into the middle of these fights, and so there will never be a lack of complaints. It’s a good time to be an antitrust lawyer in Europe.”

Contact Keith Hylton, 617-353-8959, knhylton@bu.edu

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