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Computer Group Objects To EC Browser Regulations

CompTIA says Europe's sanctions against Microsoft could damage the whole industry.

The Computing Technology Industry Association has warned the European Commission that its remedy for the European browser market could negatively impact the marketplace.

CompTIA, which represents thousands of members in more than 100 countries, filed a statement Thursday to weigh in on the Microsoft browser case. The EC claims that Microsoft's inclusion of its Internet Explorer with its operating system is illegal, and the commission wants Microsoft to allow third-party computer manufacturers to offer multiple Internet browsers on all PCs sold globally so consumers can select one before operating their computers.

"CompTIA believes the EC's objections stand on dubious factual and legal grounds -- the browser and PC markets are highly competitive, making regulation wholly unnecessary," Lars Liebeler, antitrust counsel for CompTIA, said in a statement released Thursday. "Undeterred by this, though, the EC has proposed a remedy that heavily penalizes third-party OEMs, forcing them to carry other browser software on their valuable desktop real estate."

Liebeler said the remedy is "a startling and significant intrusion" into the daily decision-making process of computer manufacturers.

"If adopted, this remedy would be the tip of the iceberg," he continued. "Competitors will use the commission's elastic precedent to arbitrage competitive advantage. More and more companies would demand that the European Commission give their products a 'preference' by affirmatively requiring every single computer manufacturer to offer their software product through a similar 'ballot screen' even if consumers did not express a desire or need for their program."

Liebeler said that regulations that would micromanage would not help the PC industry or consumers. Instead, he said the EC's ruling would "hamstring innovation, mocking the desires of the vibrant PC marketplace."

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