Thesis Problem Statement
Andrew J. Napierala
Advisor: Mark Frascatore February 2000 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economics and Finance
The United States of America v. Microsoft Corporation
My Honors Program thesis project will deal with “The United States of America v. Microsoft Corporation.” In this ongoing anti-trust case, the Justice Department and 19 States Attorneys' General are alleging that the company is guilty of monopolistic and anti-competitive trade practices that are detrimental to industry competitors and consumers. Microsoft contends that it has fostered innovation and competition and has not engaged in monopolistic practices. Over the course of this project, I will examine the historical and current applications of anti-trust law and utilize these laws to develop an analysis of the Microsoft case.
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Most experts would agree that recent developments involving computing technology and Internet products have helped fuel our nation's incredible economic performance over the last several years. Over the same period, Microsoft has been one of the most profitable and successful firms around the world due to the dominance of their Windows operating software. Any governmental action or restriction on these expanding industries would most likely set precedents and serve as examples for future legal action regarding competition in the new “information” economy.
I find the wide variety of opinions with regard to this case to be extremely fascinating. Quite simply, consensus opinions do not exist amongst experts such as economists, industry analysts, and regulators with regard to whether Microsoft is a monopoly, whether Microsoft exhibits monopolistic and anti-competitive trade practices, and what punishments (if any) should be assessed to Microsoft. Therefore, examining and analyzing this case will allow me an opportunity to conduct relevant research on a very unique and contemporary issue.
My thesis project will consist of four distinct sections. First, I will provide an introduction/overview of "U.S. vs. Microsoft" that will provide background information including the actual complaint against Microsoft. Second, I will review relevant anti-trust legislation (such as the Clayton Act and the Sherman Act), and examine the legal reasoning behind the decisions in similar cases. Third, I will provide possible strategies for both the prosecution and defense in this case, and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each. Lastly, I will offer my decision in the case and evaluate the corrective or punitive measures (if any) that should be taken.
I have asked Mark Frascatore (Assistant Professor Faculty of Economics and Finance) to serve as my thesis advisor. Professor Frascatore has conducted extensive research on topics such as industrial organization and structure and has shown considerable interest in the Microsoft anti-trust trial.