Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!


An Admission of Guilt?

Microsoft agreed to the settlement of a lawsuit brought on behalf of Netscape, now owned by AOL Time Warner, in the wake of a Federal Court's finding that it had monopolized the Web browser market (story in the New York Times).

The cooperation agreement includes a $750 million payment from Microsoft to settle a private antitrust suit brought by the Netscape unit of AOL Time Warner in January 2002. The private case followed a ruling by a federal appeals court in the long-running suit against Microsoft, brought by the government in 1998; the judge ruled that the company had repeatedly violated antitrust laws by thwarting competition to preserve its monopoly in personal computer operating systems. In the government case, Netscape was portrayed as the principal corporate victim. Microsoft, the court ruled, repeatedly bullied PC makers and others to favor its browser over Netscape.

I'd like to think that this amounted to an admission of guilt by Microsoft, which only had to pay legal fees and agree to change its practices as a result of being found guilty. I'm sure they'd say otherwise. Similarly, AOL Time Warner agreed to open up instant messaging services in certain ways as a condition of coming into existence via a merger of AOL and Time Warner. Now they say it's unfair. Boo hoo!

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