Breaking with the blogging tradition of incredibly obvious (and search engine indexable) article titles, I think it’s fitting to have a subtle, more European perhaps, heading for this post. To cut to the chase, it deals with the great transatlantic dog fight between possibly the world’s biggest monopoly and the Eurocrats - that is Microsoft vs European Competition Commission.
This has caused great entertainment for those browsing the net as, for some, this has broken down into a full scale Europe vs America battle. The ruling is Microsoft’s first court loss of significance that stands to have genuine legal ramifications as most other similar cases have been settled out of court by deep pockets and hamstrung prosecutions. Although it’s always hard to pick the legal meat off the bones in a lot of software related court cases, other articles have mentioned that the ruling means limited scope for MS to appeal, possible requirement of protocols disclosure and of course the small matter of hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. Small change to a big fish perhaps but no one likes to throw away money.
Those who support the decision are proudly strutting the streets with their vin rouge in one hand and their petit pain in the other singing “Vive la Revolution” as they go. Some have changed to spelling color with a ‘u’ and prefer to organise their day than organize it. Those against, see the fleeting head of communism attacking capitalism’s finest hour. Cries of “Red! Reds! Under the beds” can be heard from those who shun the European Courts ruling. Particularly entertaining is the comments at the end of the article Microsoft’s Stunning Court Defeat. I don’t normally mange to keep chugging through the comments but I did find this little flame quite amusing.
So what does the future legal direction of this case hold? Well that’s anyone’s guess, but the interesting thing that FFII correctly pointed out in one of their recent press releases is that patents are where the battle is at. Whatever respect Europe can garner by being the first one to call a spade a spade - or an illegal monopoly an illegal monopoly - will be soon squandered if software patents are allowed in the back door. How anyone could be stupid enough to repeatedly bring software patents to the brink of legality in Europe is amazing. But that is what’s happened time and time again. Software lifecycles are measured in months (not decades like in big pharma) and innovation has always occurred by building on the ideas of others. But yet there are those who are scared that taking a stance against software patents means being anti-intellectual property - when the reverse is the case. Let’s hope that the next time software patents are on the European menu, that there will be enough intelligent people in the room to call the spade again.