As announced on 22 July 2020, Quinn Emanuel’s antitrust team filed a formal complaint on behalf of Slack Technologies with the EU Commission alleging that Microsoft is abusing its dominant market position by engaging in illegal and anti-competitive behaviour in serious breach of European Union competition law. Slack, often described as an “email killer,” threatens Microsoft’s hold on business email, the cornerstone of Office, and by so doing threatens Microsoft’s monopoly power over enterprise software. Microsoft has specifically targeted Slack, trying to impede its competitive capability and stymie what third party analysts have described as an “existential threat” to Microsoft’s business by illegally tying its Teams product into its market-dominant Office productivity suite, force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, hiding the true cost to enterprise customers and refusing interoperability information.
As Slack noted in its press release “this is much bigger than Slack versus Microsoft – this is a proxy for two very different philosophies for the future of digital ecosystems, gateways versus gatekeepers. Slack offers an open flexible approach that compounds the threat to Microsoft because it is a gateway to innovative best-in-class technology that competes with the rest of Microsoft’s stack and gives customers the freedom to build solutions that meet their needs.”
The remedies proposed in the Complaint are designed to ensure a level playing field and an environment of fair competition. Healthy competition drives innovation and creates the best products and the most choice for customers. Competition and antitrust laws are designed to ensure that dominant companies are not allowed to foreclose competition illegally. The European Commission will now review the complaint and decide whether to open a formal investigation into Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices.
Quinn Emanuel invites other Software as a Service or Infrastructure as a Service companies, especially application developers who benefit from Slack’s open platform and wish to support the Complaint or who may have other issues which need to be dealt with, to contact the firm at the following confidential email address: MicrosoftAntitrust@quinnemanuel.com