Curran Praises Findings in Microsoft Case

November 5, 1999

Calling it a great victory for consumers, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. tonight praised Judge Thomas Penfield’s Jackson’s Findings of Fact in the Microsoft case, released earlier this evening. In his 207 page report, Judge Jackson concluded that Microsoft’s abuse of its monopoly power harmed consumers by inhibiting the development of other products that were potentially competitive with Microsoft’s products. The Judge found that Microsoft, through its monopoly power, imposed restrictions on other companies which forced those companies to limit development of new products to only those which Microsoft approved. For instance, the Judge found that Microsoft would not give its computer codes to companies seeking to develop "Windows compatible" products unless those companies stopped developing products that were potentially competitive. While the Judge reached no conclusions of law, the Findings of Fact represent a clear victory for consumers and the States, including Maryland, which joined the Department of Justice in the antitrust lawsuit.

"This is a good sign for young, emerging companies with innovative ideas," said Attorney General Curran. "Microsoft can no longer dictate the future of computers by imposing restrictions that limit the development of new products. No longer will innovative young technological companies be foreclosed from bringing products on the market through threats from this computer giant."

In his findings of fact, Judge Jackson concluded that Microsoft’s actions "harmed consumers in ways that are immediate and easily discernible." Judge Jackson wrote further that Microsoft "distorted competition" and "created confusion and frustration for consumers." Finally, he concluded:

"Most harmful of all is the message that Microsoft’s actions have conveyed to every enterprise with the potential to innovate in the computer industry. Through its conduct toward Netscape, IBM, Compaq, Intel, and others, Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition against one of Microsoft’s core products. ... The ultimate result is that some innovations that would truly benefit consumers never occur for the sole reason that they do not coincide with Microsoft’s self-interest."

"This is about fairness," said Curran. "The intent of this suit was never to punish a company for being successful, but to ensure the most competitive environment for business and thus, the most favorable environment for consumers. The fact that Judge Jackson agrees with us confirms that the allegations are true."

For Further Information Contact:
Frank Mann
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(410) 576-6357