Microsoft dubs antitrust case weak

By : |January 30, 2001 0

WASHINGTON: Microsoft Corp. on Monday filed final papers in its antitrust
case appeal, saying its behavior had been lawful, pro-competitive and the trial
court’s order to split the company in two was unjustified.

In a 75-page reply to a government filing earlier this month, the Redmond,
Wash.-based software giant said it detected several concessions by the
government that much of Microsoft’s behavior was lawful.

"Whatever remains of plaintiffs’ case after these concessions does not
amount to a Sherman Act violation, and is certainly not sufficient to justify
breaking up Microsoft and imposing other extreme relief," Microsoft said.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 26-27.

District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson found that Microsoft holds
monopoly power in the market for personal computer operating systems with its
Windows product and illegally used that power, including integrating its
Web-browser into Windows to combat Netscape.

On June 7, Jackson ordered that the company be broken up to prevent future
antitrust violations and set other remedies, all of which he suspended pending
appeal.

The US Department of Justice, 19 states and the District of Columbia have
asked the appeals court to uphold Jackson’s findings and the split order.

Microsoft said Jackson’s verdict should be reversed entirely, but that if
any matters remained, Jackson should be removed from the case because of
comments about the case that the company alleges show bias.

In Monday’s filing the company quoted portions of the government’s Jan. 12
filing to back its argument that even the plaintiffs concede its actions were
within the law and benefited consumers.

"The district court specifically found aspects of Microsoft’s conduct in
developing a Web browser and offering it to OEMs (original equipment makers,
i.e. computer makers) and users with Windows to be lawful," was one of the
government’s sentences that Microsoft highlighted.

But a look back at the government’s filing shows that passage was prefaced
with: "The court distinguished between lawful pro competitive design
changes and anti competitive actions relating to design features."

The government had wanted the Supreme Court to directly hear the company’s
appeal, but the high court sided with Microsoft and sent the case to the lower
appellate court, which ruled for the company in a related case in 1998.

Shares of Microsoft were trading unchanged at $64 in early afternoon trade on
the Nasdaq market Monday.

(C) Reuters Limited 2001.

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