SPA Europe boss defends anti-monopoly document

The Software Publishers Association (SPA) has defended a document outlining its members' position on software vendors in a monopolistic position. Although Microsoft is not mentioned by name, the document clearly has Bill Gates's under-fire company in mind in many areas.

The Software Publishers Association (SPA) has defended a document outlining its members' position on software vendors in a monopolistic position. Although Microsoft is not mentioned by name, the document clearly has Bill Gates's under-fire company in mind in many areas.

The document, SPA's Competition Principles, is intended to act as a nudge to policy makers the world over by stating the views of SPA members on what constitutes fair and unfair competition in the industry.

A key part of the text states that:

"The owner of a dominant operating system may have the ability to leverage the operating system into the sale of favoured products and services, including those utilizing electronic commerce. Operating systems should not be used to unfairly favor its own products and services (or its favored partners) over those of competing vendors."

This struck a chord with Microsoft, which complained to the SPA that it was being targeted by rival software vendors in the document. Microsoft was, of course, accused of just such actions by the US Department of Justice by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows 95.

Gerard Gabella, managing director of SPA Europe, said that Microsoft was clearly the company in the most likely position to be judged on issues of monopoly, but defended the document nonetheless.

"The major concern of members of the board of the SPA was that, given the attention of policy makers, the industry should propose a set of self-regulatory lines that could be taken into consideration by US, European or Asian policy makers. It was a collective decision and, compared to five years ago, there is clearly more concern now about the privileges the holder of the dominant operating system should have."

Gabella also played down Microsoft's complaints.

"If the world had been rewritten another way we could have been talking about Novell and NetWare. The SPA is a group of small-, medium- and large-sized software companies. Microsoft has complained that their input has not been recognised but we're a democratic organisation."

That said, Gabella admitted that Microsoft's complaints may yet bear some fruit.

"We're listening to feedback and additions to the document may be put in place. It's a living document."