Antitrust Karma, the Microsoft-Google Wars, and a Question for Rick Rule
The WSJ recently published the next installment of the Microsoft-Google antitrust wars. A Google representative argues “competition is one click away”; Charles (“Rick”) Rule, Microsoft’s antitrust attorney, argues that Google’s conduct might harm competition. Rule’s main point is summed up in the first line of his piece: “what goes around comes around.” The longer version of the argument is as follows: (1) Microsoft was faced with antitrust allegations instigated by rivals that its business practices harmed competition; (2) Microsoft defended on various grounds, including that there was ample competition in high-tech markets; (3) Microsoft lost and new law was made; (4) Google is now faced with similar allegations, brought on and/or instigated by similar rivals (including Microsoft), and involving similar defenses; (5) fair play and consistency dictates that the same standard be applied to Microsoft and Google; (6) thus, Google is an antitrust problem and should lose a suit brought against it. I will refer to (1)-(6) as the “antitrust karma” argument.