WMU News

WMU professor says Microsoft opinions are solid law

May 3, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- A Western Michigan University professor is praising U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's findings to date and offering predictions about future developments.

Dr. Norman W. Hawker, an associate professor of finance and commercial law in WMU's Haworth College of Business, was impressed by the strength and clarity of Jackson's conclusions earlier, when he ruled that Microsoft had indeed violated antitrust laws. Judge Jackson is currently considering the Justice Department's proposal for remedying Microsoft's monopoly.

"This decision shows that antitrust law is alive and well, and it can be adapted to modern circumstances," Hawker says of the legislation enacted in 1890 and 1914. "Judge Jackson did not do anything novel in his findings of law and he certainly did not articulate any incredible new theories. He used solid, straightforward, mainstream antitrust legal principals, and I don't foresee other judges -- including the justices of the Supreme Court -- overturning the bulk of his findings."

The ultimate resolution of the case may boil down to politics -- namely, who wins the presidential election this fall. A Gore administration, Hawker contends, would likely maintain what he calls a moderate level of antitrust enforcement similar to what's been seen under President Clinton. And the Microsoft case would likely go forward. George W. Bush, however, has already indicated he would drop the Microsoft case if he's elected, and Hawker believes Bush would return to "a Ronald Regal type of antitrust enforcement, which is extremely minimal."

Media contact: Jessica English, 616 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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