Acton Institute, November 4, 2002: Grand Rapids, MI- TheActon Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty issued a statement todaycommenting on the anti-trust settlement reached between Microsoft and theJustice Department.
In a statement, Phillip W. De Vous, the public policy manager of the ActonInstitute, offered his reflections on the decision:
“This settlement is certainly a step in the right direction, but the resolution ofsome serious issues remains ambiguous.The most significant issue at stake throughout this entire legal actionhas been whether or not a company has the right to protect the products of itsinvestment and innovation. In myestimation, the long-term damage done to intellectual property protections bythis costly legal action has yet to be assessed. My concern is that this wide-ranging legal offense broughtagainst Microsoft by its competitors has introduced a dangerous ambiguity intothe field of intellectual property protections. This ambiguity could have the potential effect of stiflingthe entrepreneurial spirit by discouraging research and development into newtechnologies that are beneficial to human flourishing.”
“Justice dictates that every person (and corporation) receive what they are due as aresult of their investment and labor.From the beginning, the Justice Department conceded that Microsoft hadattained its significant market share legitimately, by offering productsdesired by and affordable to consumers.The fact that Microsoft is a successful business does not mean that thedictates of justice are suspended or nullified. This settlement, offered in the ruling by Judge ColleenKollar-Kotelly, takes some appropriate steps in remedying the injustices doneto intellectual property protections in the Microsoft lawsuit. I hesitate, however, to call this avictory for businesses and consumers alike, who rely on such protections tocreate the environment where the finest products of human ingenuity can bedeveloped and delivered.”