Complaints against Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype

Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring the well known VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) provider Skype. This move has caused a great deal of concern to competing companies, some of which have filed objections in all applicable jurisdictions where the merger is being examined. The main issue is the fact that the Skype platform does not interact with other VoIP platforms; therefore If Microsoft were to integrate Skype into the new Windows 8, Microsoft’s huge customer base will be added to that of Skype. This would further strengthen Skype’s currently strong position on the market, to the exclusion of other VOIP providers.

Microsoft has already had to face a similar challenge when it had announced that ‘Microsoft Internet Explorer’ was going to become an integral part of the Windows operating system in 2009.

As matters stand, antitrust regulators in the United States have already cleared the merger, leaving European clearance as the last possible obstacle to the merger.

In examining the issue, the European Commission has received letters from various VoIP providers as well as other telecommunications companies stating that this merger would most likely have dire ramifications on the current Internet telephony market in Europe. The most vocal in this regard was the Italian provider Messagenet SpA. One undertaking proposed by the objecting operators is that Skype make their software interoperable with other IP-to-IP voice and video-telephony services so as to mitigate the exclusivity of the platform. This would allow consumers to effectively choose whichever platform they wish and without any of the competitors being excluded from the market in any way.

The examination process within the EU for the acquisition is still ongoing.

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Andrew J Zammit | Managing Partner | GVZH Advocates

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