- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2001

The states still involved in the antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. presented a unified front yesterday and said they hope to seek a speedy resolution to their lawsuit.
The Department of Justice and 18 states left in the antitrust suit asked the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia to return the dispute immediately to a federal trial judge for additional hearings.
That means the Justice Department and the states won't seek a rehearing before the appeals court or seek a Supreme Court review of the case, Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said.
A June 28 ruling by the appeals court found that Microsoft has operated as a monopoly in the market for computer-operating systems. With that decision behind them, the two sides have the option of asking the appeals court to reconsider parts of the decision, appeal the entire ruling to the Supreme Court, reach an out-of-court settlement or go back to a lower court.
But a delay would harm consumers and the industry, the Justice Department and state attorneys general wrote in the motion filed yesterday.
"Microsoft's operating system affects millions of businesses and hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide. Delay in imposing an effective remedy inflicts substantial and widespread consumer injury and needlessly prolongs uncertainty in the computer in-
dustry," the Justice Department and states wrote.
Microsoft has until July 23 to respond to the request.
None of the remaining 18 states said yesterday it will drop out of the ongoing court fight against Microsoft, despite Thursday's announcement that New Mexico's attorney general reached a settlement with the company.
Microsoft spokesman Vivek Varma declined to divulge whether the company is in negotiations with the remaining states suing it or whether it will pursue settlements with other states.
"We're just not going to get into that right now," Mr. Varma said.
New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid said she settled in part because she believes the breakup remedy sought by the states would do too much harm to a company that "has been one of the primary engines driving the New Economy and has delivered significant benefits to our nation's citizens."
Whatever course of action they take, the remaining states are unified and there is no concern others will abdicate, said Bob Brammer, spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who has helped lead the states in their long legal battle against Microsoft.
"We were 19 [Thursday]. We're 18 today. We're very strong," he said. "We feel like the states are united."
An appeals court overturned an order that Microsoft be broken in two.
The court also rejected a finding that Microsoft attempted to monopolize the market for Internet browsers and ordered a new district court to decide whether the company illegally tied its browser to its operating system.
But the court did uphold a ruling that the company abused its monopoly in the market for operating systems, and Microsoft said Wednesday it will change its Windows operating system to address concerns raised by the federal court. It will change its licensing policies so computer makers can remove Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser icon.
Because the appeals court upheld part of the lower court's ruling, the state attorneys general still believe a breakup should be considered as punishment.
Miss Madrid said a severe punishment against Microsoft could harm the entire industry.
"Without a doubt, Microsoft must account for its past misconduct, but I would caution against exacting a penalty that could have far-reaching and detrimental effects on the country's consumers and businesses as a whole," she said.
The Justice Department, 19 states and the District sued Microsoft in May 1998, claiming the software developer tried to thwart competition. Microsoft appealed after U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson entered his final judgment June 7, 2000.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide