The EU's $2.5 Billion Theft from Microsoft |
February 28, 2008
Irvine, CA--The European Union has just fined Microsoft another $1.35 billion under antitrust law, bringing the company's total EU fines to $2.5 billion.
"This fine should be regarded by all for what it is: an act of government theft," said Alex Epstein, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. "It is not proper for a government to impose a financial penalty unless a company is violating someone else's property rights. But Microsoft has violated no one's rights. It has sold a valuable product to willing customers and made voluntary agreements with willing developers.
"The European Union, on the other hand, has flagrantly violated the rights of Microsoft. It has forced the company to spend untold man-years tied up in court, submitting to invasive EU probes, and providing as much new documentation as EU antitrust chief Neelie Kroes feels like demanding. And it is seizing $2.5 billion of the company's earnings.
"That a productive company doing its best to succeed in the fiercely competitive software and online markets can be fined for adding a media player feature to its Windows software, or setting the price for access to its secret software codes, is a travesty. But it must be recognized as a travesty that flows from the nature of antitrust laws.
"Antitrust laws regard successful competitors on a free market as dangerous 'monopolists,' and authorize governments to punish these companies however they see fit. For over 100 years, some of the world's most productive companies, from Standard Oil to General Electric to IBM, have been persecuted under antitrust for expanding markets and lowering prices.
"It is time to put an end to this injustice. The EU can start by paying back to Microsoft's shareholders every penny it has taken from them."
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Alex Epstein was a writer and a fellow on staff
at ARI between 2004 and 2011.