Tonya Harding’s Army
[December 12, 2002]
By Nicholas Provenzo
We’re changing our
name again. In honor of U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz, the federal
judge overseeing Sun Microsystems' request for an injunction against
Microsoft, we are now the Center for the Advancement of Pride in Product.
Well, perhaps not,
but in an interesting quote by Judge Motz, "Capitalism is about making
money, but it's also about something else. It's also about pride of
Right. That makes
sense. I’ve thought and reflected for a week, and I can honestly say, I
have no clue what the judge’s statement could possibly mean.
What I do
understand is Judge Motz’s comparison of Microsoft’s treatment of Sun to
Tonya Harding's knee-capping attack on rival figure skater Nancy Kerrigan.
“Nancy Kerrigan is deprived of the opportunity to compete on two good
knees,” the judge said according to Bloomberg News. “Is there a social
value on being able to participate in a market undistorted by your
Here the principle
being defined is very clear—not allowing a competitor access to your
product is the same thing as a vicious physical attack.
Sun is the
developer of Java, a software technology that allows programmers to write
one program to run off of different computers despite differences in their
operating systems. Sun wants Microsoft to continue to integrate its Java
software into Microsoft Windows. Microsoft would prefer not and instead
wants develop its own cross-platform technology.
Does Sun have the
right to compete in a market where Microsoft has no control of its
products because Microsoft is the market leader? If you think for a
heart-beat that there is a so-called “social value” to such an
arrangement, the answer is “yes.” In Judge Motz’s court, Sun has argued
that because of Microsoft’s earlier conviction for breaking the antitrust
laws, it now has the right to force Microsoft to carry Java. Motz
apparently agrees, hence the Tonya Harding reference.
But if you think a
proper economy is one where trade is voluntary, and where one has a right
to the property they create and the success they rightfully earn, the
answer must be “no.”
case is Bill Gates' and other businessmen's dividend for falling to attack
the antitrust laws themselves. In court, Microsoft attorney David B. Tulchin argued that Sun was seeking to take "a free ride on the back of
Microsoft" by demanding Java distribution. Under antitrust, why shouldn’t
Sun? Because it has “pride in product”?
The fact is
antirust allows any second-rate company like Sun to use the law as a means
of destroying its business rivals. Rather than invest in software
engineers to build better products, Sun can simply rely on lawyers and the
courts to give
it the success it can not earn in the free market.
antitrust claim that antitrust exists to protect consumers, but much like
a parasite when it devours its host, there won’t be to much to feast on as
antirust continues to devour successful business after successful
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