Wiggin & Dana Sponsors Law School Conference on Microsoft Antitrust Trial

June 1, 1999 Advisory
On March 26, 1999, a panel of experts in antitrust and computer law gathered for the 1999 Wiggin & Dana Symposium at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Sponsored by Wiggin & Dana, and run by the Connecticut Law Review, the conference discussed what some have declared to be the antitrust trial of the century.

The Microsoft Case
In 1998, the United States Department of Justice and twenty states brought a civil antitrust action for monopolization against Microsoft. Although previous antitrust actions against Microsoft have been settled by consent decree, this case went to trial last fall. At the time of this publication, a judgment or settlement has yet to be reached. At the core of the antitrust case is whether Microsoft has exploited its alleged monopoly power in the market for personal computer operating systems to gain an illegal competitive advantage in the market for web browsers. Among the acts alleged to be anticompetitive, is the integration of Microsoft's operating system -- Windows 98 -- with Microsoft's web browser -- Internet Explorer.

The Panel
Moderated by Bob Langer, the panel included presentations by Rick Rule of Covington & Burling, and former head of the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division; Albert A. Foer, President of the American Antitrust Institute; Professor William E. Kovacic, George Washington University Law School; Professor Leonard Orland, University of Connecticut School of Law; Professor William H. Page, Mississippi College School of Law; Robert A. Levy of the Cato Institute; and Jonathan Zittrain, Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.

The speakers presented extremely thoughtful papers to the law school during the conference, and participated in two lively discussion panels. The topics of discussion ranged from the application of traditional antitrust law principles in cyberspace to the possible break-up of Microsoft. Of particular interest was a proposal by Jonathan Zittrain, of Harvards Berkman Center, to reduce the copyright term for software down to five years to help solve the Microsoft monopoly problem.

Watch the Conference on the Web
Apropos to the subject matter of the Microsoft case, the entire conference is available to view on the World Wide Web. Additionally, the presentations and discussion periods will be published in Volume 31, Issue 4, of the Connecticut Law Review later this summer. Pete Barile, Symposium Editor of the Law Review, who is scheduled to join the firm as an associate this fall, was principally responsible for planning and organizing this very successful program.