SW Legal Educational Publishing

Microsoft May Not Require Internet Explorer To Be Tied To Operating System
Description Justice Department request that Microsoft be held in contempt of 1995 consent decree with Microsoft that restricted anticompetitive practices denied. The bundling of Internet Explorer with the operating systems does not expressly violate the consent decree. A trial will be held on the merits; preliminary injunction against tying the products issued.
Topic Antitrust
Key Words Licensing, Monopolization, Tying, Consent Decree
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Justice sued Microsoft, claiming it is in violation of a 1995 consent decree that stemmed from a suit charging Microsoft with unlawful monopoly in the PC operating system software market. The relevant provision of the consent decree here "prohibits Microsoft from requiring original equipment manufacturers ("OEMs") of PCs to commit to licensing other Microsoft products in order to obtain licenses to install Microsoft's PC operating system products." The practice attacked here "arises from Microsoft's practice of including, in its licensing agreements with OEMs, a requirement that, as a condition of acquiring the right to Windows 95, they also accept a product known as the Internet Explorer." Justice claims that Microsoft coerces OEMs to license and distribute the Internet Explorer whether they want to or not; an illegal tying arrangement. Justice requested that Microsoft be found in contempt of the decree.
Decision Microsoft is not in contempt in light of ambiguity of provisions of the decree that expressly allow it to develop integrated products. However, a preliminary injunction prevents Microsoft from conditioning license agreements for the operating system (such as Windows 95) on agreements to license and distribute Internet Explorer pending trial on the merits that the decree has been violated.
Citation <1>U.S. v. Microsoft<1>, ---F.Supp.--- (1997 WL 764994, D.C.)
980 f. Supp. 537 (D.D.C., 1997)

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