Obama administration vows antitrust crackdown; expect more cases like 1998-2001 U.S. vs. Microsoft

The Obama “administration will aggressively crack down on antitrust violations, reversing a Bush-era policy that had weakened the government’s ability to take on monopolies,” David Goldman reports for CNNMoney.com.

“‘As antitrust enforcers, we can no longer sit on the sidelines,’ said Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, speaking Monday at the Center for American Progress in Washington,” Goldman reports. “The Bush administration brought historically few antitrust cases to trial. But Varney said those days are over.”

“She promised a return to “tried and true case law and Supreme Court precedent.” For example, Varney said the United States could start seeing more cases like the 1998-2001 United States vs. Microsoft case in which the software giant was found to have forced out Internet browser competition like Netscape and Opera,” Goldman reports.

“Varney, a former FTC commissioner under the Clinton administration, said many plaintiffs had already started opting to take antitrust cases to European courts shortly after Bush became president in 2001,” Goldman reports.

“Among the bigger cases, Microsoft was fined $1.2 billion by the European Commission in February 2008 after it was found to be pricing out rivals and refusing to comply with the court’s previous antitrust decision,” Goldman reports. “Similarly, European Union antitrust regulators are expected to say Wednesday that Intel Corp. unfairly paid computer makers to delay or even cancel products that contained chips made by rival AMD, according to reports.”

Goldman reports, “Varney suggested a ‘back-to-basics’ approach to antitrust enforcement. ‘When companies compete, you get better programs at lower prices,’ she said.”

Full article here.

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