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The Long Arc Behind Bill Gates' Wealth, Part 2
March/April 2008 (vol. 28 no. 2)
pp. 2-5
Shane Greenstein, Kellogg Graduate School of Management
Bill Gates brought Microsoft to dominance through participation in a competitive meritocracy; later he subverted the principles behind the very system that had made him wealthy. Greenstein continues his analysis of Gates' career, focusing especially on Microsoft's browser wars with Netscape and the eventual antitrust trial.

[1] The assurance letter is available at http://www.negotiateddata.com/files Grant_Letter_060794.pdf. It states: "In the event that the IEEE adopts an autodetection standard based upon National's NWay technology, National will offer to license its NWay technology to any requesting party for the purpose of making and selling products which implement the IEEE standard. Such a license will be made available on a nondiscriminatory basis and will be paid-up and royalty-free after payment of a one-time fee of one thousand dollars ($1,000)."
[2] Vertical acknowledged at the time it acquired the patents that it had been informed "that several of the patents may be 'encumbered' by whatever actions [NSC] may have taken in the past with respect to the IEEE standards." The final agreement between Vertical and NSC stated that the assignment is "subject to any existing licenses and other encumbrances that [NSC] may have granted." It further provided, "Existing licenses shall include ... [p]atents that may be encumbered under standards such as an IEEE standard." National stated that the assignment is "subject to any existing licenses and other encumbrances that [National] may have granted." It further provided, "Existing licenses shall include ... [p]atents that may be encumbered under standards such as an IEEE standard." N-Data was also familiar with the assurance letter.
[3] Current IEEE policy makes this explicit: Any transfer of intellectual property covered by a letter of assurance to the IEEE must include language either explicitly binding the transferee to the terms of the letter of assurance or providing notice of the existence of the letter of assurance. The transferee must agree to do the same for each further transfer. Current IEEE policy also explicitly makes letters of assurance irrevocable. Since 2002, the by-laws include this statement: "This assurance shall apply, at a minimum, from the date of the standard's approval to the date of the standard's withdrawal and is irrevocable during that period."

Index Terms:
economics, William Gates, Microsoft, competition, browser, bundling, antitrust
Citation:
Shane Greenstein, "The Long Arc Behind Bill Gates' Wealth, Part 2," IEEE Micro, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 2-5, March-April 2008, doi:10.1109/MM.2008.33
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