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Microsoft -- Remedies from 1984 EC IBM Undertaking

  Info-Policy-Notes | Available from listproc@cptech.org
  December 18, 1997
        Remedies for Microsoft anticompetitive practices --
        One model is the EC's 1984 IBM Undertaking
  I was in Brussels last week, where I met with a number of EC officials
  about the Microsoft case.  In one meeting we spent some time looking at
  the IBM's 1984 EC undertaking, which I believe is cited as Bull. EC
  10-1984, pages 96-103.  The 1984 IBM undertaking was quite relevant to
  the broader issues of conduct rules for Microsoft, with respect to
  interoperability with the OS (or important MS applications, like MSIE).
  When (and if) the EC gets involved in these issues, it will be model
  that one looks at.  It sets out specific rules by which IBM agrees to
  share information and provide assistance to its competitors, who market
  software and hardware which interoperates with the IBM products. IBM not
  only signed the agreement, they reportedly carried it out in good
  faith.  It is striking how much of the 1984 IBM agreement speaks to the
  same problems now presented by Microsoft's manipulation of Windows.
  Many readers will see a model that could very easily be modified for
  Microsoft.  (I have a paper copy of the undertaking, but would
  appreciate pointers to a copy in digital form, on the Web or from
        James Love (love@cptech.org, 202.387.8030, http://www.cptech.org)
     Here are a few sections from the undertaking, which give a sense of
  the agreement:
      Section 6
      If IBM makes a change to an existing interface (hardware interface
  or program external of an existing release) in such a way that it would
  make System/370 products attaching to such existing interface
  inoperable, IBM will disclose the change to any competing undertaking at
  announcement which shall be sufficiently in advance of general
  availability to permit such undertakings to make the necessary
  adjustments in products so attached.  Also, if IBM makes a change to the
  additional information supplied in lieu of program externals for the
  purpose of attachment, and the change causes an attached product to
  become inoperable, then IBM will, on request, either supply the changed
  information or provide sufficient assistance to make the attached
  product operate.
     Section 14
     IBM recognizes the widespread interest in interconnecting systems and
  networks of different manufacturers.  IBM favours such interconnecting
  systems and networks of different manufacturers.  IBM favours such
  interconnections and has published and will publish extensive
  information about it including formats and protocols which facilitate
  attachment by competitors of their systems or networks to IBM SNA
  networks.  IBM understands that to the extent that SNA is different from
  OSI, competitors depend upon IBM information to be able to interconnect
  their products with IBM SNA products.  IBM has an interest in issuing
  information on SNA formats and protocols as soon as possible and it
  confirms that it will take all reasonable steps to expedite the
  availability of the relevant documentation.
  (a)  On announcement of a System/370 product that implements
  enhancements to SNA on System/370, IBM will identify the functions in
  such products that implement such enhancements.  At announcement, IBM
  will, upon request from interested persons, identify use of existing
  formats and protocols.  Where that product uses enhanced SNA formats and
  protocols, then subject to paragraph 7, IBM will as soon after
  announcement as the relevant SNA formats and protocols are reasonably
  stable and the architecture has been formulated and described or at
  general availability whichever is the earlier, publish the SNA formats
  and protocols that implement such enhancements, together with
  appropriate product documentation, in order to enable attachment of
  other systems (which may be comprised of multiple products) and networks
  to the IBM SNA network.
  (b)  IBM has actively participated in international standards efforts in
  support of open system interconnection (OSI) and will continue its
  active support of OSI as the standard for interconnecting systems,
  products and networks of different manufacturers.
     The agreement has 19 other sections, plus definitions and two
     The suggestions by Microsoft that the current DOJ dispute over OEM
  licenses and bundling the MSIE represents some type of radical meddling
  by the government seems odd, given the far reaching undertaking that IBM
  signed in this earlier case, without much damage to IBM's ability to do
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