Since China's first antitrust law came into effect in August 2008, a number of cases have been making their way to the antitrust enforcement authorities and the court.
The parties that are alleged to have breached the law include not only giant State-owned companies, but also foreign-invested companies.
The complaint against Microsoft is one of the most eye-catching among all these cases. This complaint was brought to the Ministry of Commerce on July 31 by Dong Zhengwei, a Beijing-based lawyer.
Although many Chinese software companies were reportedly considering taking legal actions against Microsoft, this complaint was filed in Dong's own name rather than on behalf of any of Microsoft's competitors.
Dong requested the MOC make antitrust investigations of Microsoft for its alleged abuse of dominance, discriminatory pricing and technology monopoly in China. The complaint also suggested a US$1 billion fine to punish Microsoft.
If the investigation proceeds, this case will be Microsoft's first antitrust problem in China, but so far there's been no substantive progress.
Although it's too early to predict the result of this case, some of its implications are worth discussing.
First, China's new antitrust law will advance a more open economy and a level playing field for Chinese and foreign businesses.
Second, the antitrust law does not limit the right to complain to competitors of the infringing company.
Rather, it allows anyone in China to file such a complaint.
For multinational companies that have many Chinese customers, this new law will require a higher level of efforts to monitor public image and improve dialogues with consumer groups.
(Shanghai Daily April 13, 2009)