Microsoft and DOJ told to intensify settlement efforts

A federal judge has ordered Microsoft and the US government to meet "around the clock" in order to reach a settlement in their...

A federal judge has ordered Microsoft and the US government to meet "around the clock" in order to reach a settlement in their landmark antitrust case.

The order was coupled with a seemingly patriotic appeal for both sides to reach an agreement "in this time of rapid national change".

At a hearing last week to set the schedule for the next phase of the trial, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said: "I think this case should be settled and this is the optimum time to do so."

In written remarks issued with her order, the judge cited the 11 September terrorist attacks as a reason for the two sides to settle this case. "In light of the recent tragic events affecting our nation, this court regards the benefit which will be derived from a quick resolution of these cases as increasingly significant."

Kollar-Kotelly said she expects an "all-out effort to settle these cases, meeting seven days a week and around the clock".

In a setback for Microsoft, Kollar-Kotelly ordered a case timetable that was close to the government's request for an expedited process. If no settlement is reached by 2 November, the judge said, both sides would have to prepare for a fresh hearing, beginning on 11 March 2001.

Microsoft and the US government will have until 12 October to settle the case on their own. If they fail, they must submit the name of "an agreed-upon" individual to act as a mediator.

The government had asked for a hearing to begin in February, while Microsoft sought a more protracted schedule.

Microsoft's effort to limit the scope of potential remedies was rejected by Kollar-Kotelly, who said it would be premature, without consideration of any evidence, to cut her remedy options.

Microsoft attorney Daniel Webb told the judge that remedies under consideration by the government would, in effect, require the company to turn over its Windows source code to competitors. "We might as well put it in a room and give it away for free. It would be devastating for that to happen," he said.

Read more on IT legislation and regulation