Competition law (was Re: Canon printer and TurboPrint)

J.McKeown at J.McKeown at
Fri May 29 21:24:19 UTC 2009

Quoting Jerry <gesbbb at>:

> Look up the definition of 'socialism'.

I know what socialism means. You seem not to. I haven't anywhere  
advocated state ownership of businesses - in fact I very clearly  
stated that I believe in a free market with only that level of  
regulation required to keep it free from monopoly abuse.

> The original suit was based on laws designed to curtail the railroad
> industry, actually Rockefeller. The original judge was prejudiced and
> an appeals court through out most of the suit and required a hearing on
> the remain portions. The suit eventually was of minimal importance.

The appeals court didn't throw out a single one of the court's  
findings of guilt: they examined the evidence and affirmed every last  
bit of it. Because the trial judge had spoken to the press before the  
case was concluded about Microsoft's conduct in his court, they found  
that his *sentence* was unsafe and asked another court to reconsider  
it. (Oh, and incidentally Rockefeller was Standard Oil, not railroads).

> Typical socialist thinking. If you cannot produce a better product, get
> the government to regulate them for you.

Again, I'm not a socialist. I'm not asking any government to overthrow  
better products in favour of worse ones. I am asking courts to enforce  
existing laws about unfair competition which suppresses potentially  
better products.

>> Even a free market requires some regulation of business practices
[discussion of clearly illegal and dangerous behaviour]
> Good idea, change the context of the discussion. We are not talking
> about product safety here. As far as I know, Microsoft does not produce
> food products. However, I did see an article recently regarding OpenSSL
> and a defect in their product. Are you saying that anyone who was
> effected by the 'bug' has a right to sue the authors of that software.

No, I'm not. You're putting words in my mouth. I'm trying to make the  
point that even a completely free market will need some oversight,  
because some companies will do anything for a short-term profit, up to  
and including actually poisoning their customers, if they aren't  
prevented by regulation.

> Now that is a true socialist. Attack and regulate a company until you
> put it out of business.

Once again, I'm not a socialist. You keep using that word: I do not  
think it means what you think it means. I'm also not suggesting  
attacking companies, only ensuring that they obey the law as it stands.

> The basic premise of your argument is that any company or entity that is
> success should be regulated. I find that concept pure socialistic
> bullshit.

No. My basic premise is that every company should be regulated in the  
same way, and that should include laws to prevent unfair competition.  
Since unfair competition tends to rely on control of the market, that  
area of the law has more impact on companies once they achieve a  
monopoly. Those laws needn't prevent a company establishing or  
maintaining market dominance by competing fairly and legally.

Strangely enough, that is also the basic premise of competition law  
all over the world.

>> To take a couple of your other points: no, I wouldn't buy your Ferrari
>> ``in a heartbeat''.
>> People don't sell anything at well below its market value without  
>> some form of ulterior motive
> I never said the product was stolen or pilfered. Those are your
> assumptions. I create a product and distribute it. It is none of the
> government's business what I sell it for as long as I pay the tax on it.

If your business model is to sell a $300,000 car for $10, the  
government won't need to intervene. If you manage to stay in business  
for any length of time they may well start taking an interest - not  
many people establish a business with the intention of giving away  
their own money on that scale, and giving away other people's money is  
generally illegal.

>> For example, there are strict laws in most places governing the sale
>> of goods at below cost (dumping)[...]
> One again, you want 'big brother' aka the government to protect you.

Yes, once again I want the law enforced. Shock horror. Check US  
anti-dumping laws, the Sherman Act, and competition law generally. You  
can argue that the law is wrong, but don't try and pretend it isn't  
the law.

>> I'm not sure where copyright laws suddenly sprang into the equation,
>> but I can assure you, as someone who works with Free software, I'm a
>> firm believer in copyright laws. I don't write much code but it's
>> copyright that prevents people stealing what I do write.
> Come on now. Are you saying that you do not publicly post any code
> that you create for anyone to use sans payment? Or are you implying
> that it is perfectly OK to steal code from any company/individual whose
> profits exceed yours sans fees? Maybe I should get some government
> intervention here to see what you are hiding?

Er, what? I don't see how on earth you got from ``I'm a firm believer  
in copyright laws'' to ``it is perfectly OK to steal code''. In fact,  
I'm struggling to make much sense of this paragraph at all. I believe  
in the right of the author to dictate the way in which his work is  
used - that's what copyright means.

> There are many truisms in business. Two of my favorite ones are:
> 1) No legitimate business ever benefited from government intervention.

I can't be bothered to look for counter-examples but I doubt this.

> 2) You can always tell a socialist; you just cannot tell him much.

This isn't a truism - it's a cheap shot at whatever you mean by a  
``socialist'' (from what you've said above, a socialist appears to  
mean someone who believes in the rule of law, since all I've done is  
argue in defence of existing laws, while you seem to be saying -  
insofar as you're making any sense at all - that once a business  
reaches a certain level of success, the law should stop applying to it).

Oh, and finally:

> The same basic idea was tried in the US with 'affirmative action'
> that entitled the lazy, stupid, etc. the same rights and privileges
> as those who worked their ass off.

Affirmative action is about attempting to redress the wrong done to  
people who were historically discriminated against because of their  
race. Whether or not you believe that affirmative action is the right  
way to go about it, suggesting that black people are all lazy and  
stupid and that they should not have the same rights as others is  
remarkably offensive, especially when you're talking to someone in  
South Africa.

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