Posted by Jeff MeisnerEditor, Microsoft on the Issues
Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft, issued the following statement on today’s introduction of the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013:
“It’s critical that America address the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. There are many high-skilled, high-paying jobs being created by American businesses across the country that are being left unfilled because of this gap. The country’s economic and technology leadership are dependent on improving STEM education and implementing broader immigration reform.
Today’s introduction in the Senate of the bi-partisan Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 is a major step forward. This legislation addresses the country’s immigration and education needs in a thoughtful and impactful manner.
The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 contains crucial reforms in high-skilled immigration that provide more H-1B visas and green cards in exchange for a small increase in additional fees. Equally important, the bill directly invests in America’s future by directing these fees toward the funding of education and training programs for our own citizens.
Posted by Dave HeinerVice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft
Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Patent and Trademark Office issued an important policy statement on standard essential patents. We welcome the statement as a significant step forward in ensuring the sound operation of the international standards system. Open standards can thrive only if firms can implement any standard free of the threat that other firms who contributed to the standard will later turn around and try to block them from shipping their products. That is why we strongly support the conclusion of the DOJ and the PTO that holders of standard essential patents should not be permitted to seek product injunctions against firms that are willing to take a reasonable license. Simply stated, firms that have promised to make their standard essential patents available on reasonable terms should do so. (Microsoft committed to this approach a year ago.)
The FTC determined last week that Google violated U.S. competition law by suing to block shipments of products such as Xboxes, iPhones and iPads. As the FTC explained, these products implement common industry standards, like those used for video playback and Wi-Fi connectivity, and Google had promised to make its standard essential patents available to all on reasonable terms.
The FTC took steps today to address some of Google’s improper business practices. We find it troubling that the agency did not adhere to its own standard procedures that call for the agency to obtain industry input on proposed relief and secure it through an enforceable consent decree. The FTC’s overall resolution of this matter is weak and—frankly—unusual. We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address.
For years Google has publicly championed the virtues of “data portability”—the idea that customers ought to be able to use their own data in products from various companies. But in practice, Google effectively prohibited its primary paying customers (advertisers) from using data about their own advertising campaigns on any ad platform other than Google’s. That made it much more difficult and costly for advertisers (especially small advertisers) to run their ad campaigns on Bing and other ad platforms.
Two years ago, Microsoft applauded the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission when they opened their antitrust investigations into Google’s business practices. We believed then, as we do now, that the future of competition in search is at stake in these investigations. This is important not just for Microsoft, but for the thousands of smaller companies whose businesses depend on a competitive search marketplace. That is why so many companies have made their concerns about Google’s misconduct known to regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.
The European Commission has stated publicly that Google must address four areas of concern regarding its business practices, or else it will face enforcement action. We understand that the European Commission and Google are working toward a binding, enforceable legal order that would address these competition law concerns.
Posted by Brad SmithGeneral Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
As 2012 draws to a close, we’re starting to see a number of “year-in-review” pieces recapping key developments in the tech industry over the past 12 months. One item that I think deserves to be near the top of these year-end lists is an issue to which we and others have been paying especially close attention.
We continue to strive to put privacy first for our customers, while recognizing that providing consumers with more choice and control of their privacy requires strong collaboration with a number of stakeholders. We often have a unique perspective in these discussions: We have billions of paying customers, as well as a thriving advertising business.
We’re looking ahead to 2013 to continue our efforts to put our customers front and center with respect to privacy, while also working with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), consumer groups, the advertising industry, and government officials to seek a clear path forward. But first, let’s look at some of the progress made this year, and what future success could look like.