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The danger to the global economy — and the United States' success in that environment — that has been created by the EC's decision cannot be underestimated.

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CFIF Urges U.S. House of Representatives to Voice Disapproval of Eurpean Commission’s Recent Ruling Against Microsoft

In a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Center for Individual Freedom, together with other national organizations, requested that House members join with a bipartisan group of representatives and senators in articulating their own disapproval of the EC’s recent unfair decision against Microsoft.

May 20, 2004

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative,

Following the March 24 decision of the European Commission (EC) in its Microsoft antitrust case, a bipartisan group of representatives and senators, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, expressed their objections and concerns about the adverse impact on trade, antitrust laws, and the global economy. The undersigned organizations respectfully request that you join them in articulating your own disapproval of the EC's decision.

To ensure prosperity for all in the modern global economy, countries must respect the decisions of others to protect against economic double jeopardy. The EC's decision clearly demonstrates the problems that can be created when regulators ignore the precedent of legitimate decisions in other countries.

After nearly five years of litigation in the United States, the Microsoft case reached its conclusion. But the EC's ruling against Microsoft undermines the very substance of this prior U.S. resolution. Worse, the EC decision demonstrates that companies unhappy with outcomes in U.S. courts can "forum shop" their complaints to other international jurisdictions. Without consistent, coherent policies across nations, companies have to navigate a morass of conflicting regulations and incur high costs for regulatory compliance.

The economic damage of such a system does not limit itself to the targeted company. Software developers remain off-balance with uncertainty over what will or will not be included in the Windows operating system. Arbitrary rulings in every nation threaten to disrupt the creative process, and businesses in any industry can face delay and uncertainty that thwart investment, innovation, and competition.

Americans would not stand for the Justice Department wasting limited tax dollars by writing computer software for consumers and businesses in this country. Neither will they stand for EC bureaucrats substituting their software "expertise" for our own professionals.

The EC's order raises the specter that they will actively regulate Microsoft's products on an ongoing basis, often limiting how the company adds new features to Windows. Attempting to dictate the development process at Microsoft would create a domino effect that would stall new software and features at hundreds of American and foreign companies that depend on Microsoft's products. In the end, consumers lose.

The danger to the global economy — and the United States' success in that environment — that has been created by the EC's decision cannot be underestimated. While Microsoft is the current subject of the EC's onerous and ill-conceived regulations, other U.S. companies are also in jeopardy the next time a competitor seeks to achieve in a foreign court what it cannot achieve in the marketplace. One need only look at the General Electric-Honeywell merger blocked by the EC after it had already been approved by U.S. authorities.

The undersigned organizations urge you to inform the EC of your objections to the March 24 decision and to support congressional and executive branch efforts to overturn and mitigate the damage caused by that ruling.


Duane Parde, Executive Director
American Legislative Exchange Council

Jeffrey Mazzella, Executive Director
Center for Individual Freedom

Thomas Schatz, President
Citizens Against Government Waste

Nancie G. Marzulla, President
Defenders of Property Rights

T. Rogers Wade, President
Georgia Public Policy Foundation

John Berthoud, President
National Taxpayers Union

Sonia Arrison
Pacific Research Institute

Karen Kerrigan, Chair
Small Business Survival Committee


[Posted June 17, 2004]