Antitrust expert dismayed by Microsoft decision
Sept. 6, 2001
KALAMAZOO -- On the heels of today's announcement from the U.S. Justice Department that it will not pursue a breakup of Microsoft Corp., a Western Michigan University professor worries that the government has abandoned its most effective antitrust remedy.
"While I'm pleased that the Department of Justice continues to talk about restoring competition in the operating systems market, I'm dismayed that they have unilaterally abandoned the most effective tool to achieve that goal," says Hawker, an associate professor in WMU's Haworth College of Business and a fellow with the American Antitrust Institute.
"My fear is that Microsoft has cashed in its political IOUs with the Bush administration. As a result, the Justice Department may be walking away from its most significant antitrust victory since the Standard Oil breakup."
While Hawker concedes that it is possible to restore competition without a breakup, the Justice Department may be creating more work for itself. "Conduct remedies," he says, will require much closer monitoring from the government and the courts. One positive side to today's decision, he notes, is that by avoiding the most contentious remedy, the Justice Department may be able to prevent the lengthy court battles and appeals a breakup order would likely inspire.
Hawker, who has written numerous articles on antitrust law and the Microsoft case, is a former assistant attorney general for Michigan.
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