Throw out Microsoft remedy, US state insists

The Massachusetts attorney general has argued that the remedy in the US government's antitrust case against Microsoft should be...

The Massachusetts attorney general has argued that the remedy in the US government's antitrust case against Microsoft should be thrown out because it does not stop the company's anticompetitive behaviour, nor does it deprive Microsoft of "benefits achieved through its misdeeds".

"If this is the remedy in a case of this magnitude, then there is little reason why any monopolist or would-be monopolist should hesitate to embark on a similar course of unlawful conduct," says a document filed by the attorney general with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Microsoft has argued that the Massachusetts proposal would benefit the company's competitors and not consumers and that its recommended remedies are "extreme".

Massachusetts remains the lone hold-out state in the antitrust case, refusing to sign on to US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's remedy ruling of last November which approved a settlement agreement worked out by plaintiffs and Microsoft.

Eighteen states, the District of Columbia and the US Department of Justice were plaintiffs in the antitrust case, in which Microsoft was found to have an illegal monopoly, anticompetitively using its market dominance in operating systems to make inroads into other areas and to quash competition.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said that it is notable that Massachusetts stands alone in refusing to accept the final judgment in the case.

"It's been very clear through this process that the court thoroughly reviewed these issues and rejected many of the additional sanctions that Massachusetts seeks because they were not good for the software industry or the economy," he said.

The company will continue to "underscore the potential harm of the sanctions that Massachusetts seeks", said Desler, adding that "our real focus remains on full and complete compliance of the terms of the court's final judgment".

Massachusetts has proposed that Microsoft be required to unbundle its operating system from all middleware products and also contends that Kollar-Kotelly erred by not making Microsoft disclose certain Windows application programming interfaces to third-party developers and release Internet Explorer code in an open-source licence.

The final judgment approved by Kollar-Kotelly sets up restrictions related to Microsoft's licensing agreements, orders the company to release some of its intellectual property and forbids retaliation against PC and software makers which offer, or consider offering, products that compete with Microsoft.

The Massachusetts appeal is set for 4 November.

Nancy Weil writes for IDG News Service

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