Five years on
Posted Oct 3, 2010 4:45 UTC (Sun) by FlorianMueller
In reply to: Five years on
Parent article: Red Hat Responds to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Request for Guidance on Bilski
Which brings us to the interesting case of the Web browser, does it not? After all, can't people who want Firefox or Opera install it themselves?
At first sight one may believe there's an important parallel, but there isn't under competition law.
If bundling is abused by a dominant vendor in one market to gain an unfair unadvantage in another market (which was the argument in the Media Player context, used by complainants as a precedent for the Internet Explorer discussion), then there's a competition problem. But note the "dominant vendor" requirement. There's no dominant PC company, and instead major players like Dell and HP do offer Windowsless Linux configurations.
Yes, but the operating system vendor is dominant.
It was found dominant. But being dominant isn't illegal. It's the combination of dominance and abuse that's illegal.
And doesn't competition regulation have anything to say about a bunch of companies getting together and stifling competition?
Sure, that would be called a cartel: a form of cooperation with the object of illegally restricting competition. There's no indication that Dell, HP and others have conspired against Linux. On the contrary, some vendors are known for a very pro-Linux attitude, but they all have to respond to what the market (in the context you care about: the consumer market) wants at this stage.
even though history suggests that in the EU, at least, they would rather mess around with things like media players and Web browsers than get to grips with the underlying causes.
It's interesting that you say this because five years ago I criticized the European Commission in a similar way. I said that on the one hand they were pursuing Microsoft with antitrust law but on the other hand supporting the very software patents Microsoft wants. I would have preferred a focus on software patents, especially since I was mostly concerned about patents on codecs in terms of the ability of others to compete with the Media Player.
But as far as interoperability is concerned, the European Commission is indeed looking at what might ultimately become a legislative solution that would affect all "significant market players" in order to establish general rules rather than only pursue individual cases,
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