This corrodes and undermines the spirit of healthy competition in the free markets. Companies end up monopolizing the markets owing to a variety of reasons. It may happen because a company may be the individual and sole inventor of a particular product that commands a high and persistent demand in the market. Monopolies may also be brought about by the consolidation of the corporations that manufacture a particular product. Economists do have an ambiguous and mixed response towards the monopolies. Some experts say that governments should not try to alter or break the monopolistic situations in the free markets as they signify the ultimate will and desire of a free market. There exists on e other school of thought that though resents the government interference in the free markets, do believes that some sort of antitrust action or statutory rulings should be initiated by the state to tackle the situation of absolute monopoly in the free markets. Though it has been commonly seen that the accusations of monopoly are often levelled against the companies who enjoy a competitive edge in the markets pertaining to the manufacturing and the supply of specific products or services, on do genuinely comes across situations where some companies deliberately resort to anticompetitive practices to command a position of monopoly. A highly pertinent and relevant example of monopoly that has shot up in the last two decades is that of Microsoft. Microsoft does have a monopoly power in the markets for personal computer operating systems. Though the monopoly of Microsoft over operating systems and web browsers has been significantly diluted by Firefox, open source and Linux operating systems, still Microsoft has been the target of hotly contested legal proceedings in the recent years owing to pertinent accusations of monopoly (wise GEEK, 2009).
As the accusations of monopoly against Microsoft have entered the legal arena, it will be highly relevant to analyse such accusations in the light of the legal provisions pertaining to the monopolistic situations in the US, the UK and the European Union. To prove the accusations of monopoly in a court of law, it is imperative to show that a situation of monopoly exists. It is relatively easier to identify a situation of monopoly as per the UK law, as it defines the concept of monopoly in strictly structural terms (George et al, 2006:412). According to the British law, a firm is considered to be enjoying a position of monopoly pertaining to a specific product or service if it controls more then 25 percent market share of that product or service in the UK markets (George et al, 2006: 412). In that context, Microsoft definitely has a monopoly power over the market for personal computer operating systems, at least in the UK. However, the thing to be kept in mind is that a control over 25 percent of the market share does not automatically qualifies a firm as a monopoly according to the UK law (George et al, 2006: 412). In the US though the monopolies come within the purview of legal provisions, there exists no structural limit pertaining to the legal definition of monopoly in the American law and the categorization of a situation of monopoly solely depends on the legal definition furnished by the courts of law in the US (George et al, 20