Microsoft: Judge may not admit licensingevidence

The US states suing Microsoft may not be able to use evidence that they claim shows that Microsoft is forcing PC vendors into...

The US states suing Microsoft may not be able to use evidence that they claim shows that Microsoft is forcing PC vendors into unfair Windows licensing terms.

At the Microsoft remedy trial yesterday, judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly addressed the issue of whether the states could introduce as evidence 14 documents regarding Microsoft's dealings with PC vendors.

The states had intended to use these documents during its cross-examination of Richard Fade, senior vice-president of Microsoft's OEM (original equipment manufacturer) division.

But on Monday, Microsoft announced plans to pare down its witness list, cutting Fade from the line-up.

Lawyers for the states hoped to use the documents to show that Microsoft is using the terms of the settlement to strong-arm PC vendors into tougher licensing agreements for Windows.

Attorneys for Microsoft objected to the states' attempt to enter these documents as evidence without a related witness, particularly since the states rested their case earlier in April.

"This in not their case, this is ours," Microsoft trial attorney John Warden told the judge.

A lawyer for the states, Howard Gutman, maintained that eight of the 14 documents - which included letters from Hewlett-Packard and Compaq - were on the original evidence list and Microsoft had not objected to them.

Warden reminded Kollar-Kotelly that she had already excluded one of the eight documents during rulings made when Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates testified last week. "Those rulings stand," she said.

Four of the 14 documents were not on the original evidence list. Gutman explained that those documents - including a letter from Dell that took issue with Microsoft's interpretation of its proposed settlement with the DOJ - were created after the court's deadline for both sides to submit evidence lists passed.

Although she did not make a ruling, Kollar-Kotelly sounded sceptical about admitting these four documents during Microsoft's case. "You're going to have to wait on this one," she told Gutman.

As for the remaining two documents of the total 14, Gutman told Kollar-Kotelly that the remaining two documents out of the 14 were not essential and would be withdrawn.

Nine states and the District of Columbia are pursuing litigation against Microsoft, following are seeking stricter limits on Microsoft's business practices, despite a ruling last year that Microsoft violated antitrust law. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and nine other states reached a settlement agreement with Microsoft last November.

During this hearing, Kollar-Kotelly is listening to remedy proposals from the litigating states and from Microsoft, which has offered the terms of its settlement with the DOJ and settling states as remedies in the case.

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