27 March 2002 The federal judge presiding over the Microsoft anti-trust hearings, Judge Colleen Kottar-Kotelly, has ruled that she will hear evidence about a range of Microsoft activities that fall outside the scope of the original trial.
The original Microsoft trial was limited to the PC market, but Judge Kottar-Kotelly will now listen to testimony on handheld devices, television set-top boxes and servers. The hearings are being held to determine remedies for Microsoft’s violations of US anti-trust law.
The judge will not be finding new areas of liability and may exclude the new evidence from her final deliberations, but believes that she must examine these areas to see if they should be included in any potential remedy.
This is a major victory for the nine rebel US states that want more robust restrictions imposed upon Microsoft and its activities, compared to the settlement reached between the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the other nine states involved in the original anti-trust action.
The rebel states argue that new evidence from non-PC markets should be admitted because Microsoft’s behaviour in these markets is similar to its actions in the PC market. “There seems to be little dispute that the law allows remedies beyond the very specific conditions [found to be illegal]”, said Judge Kottar-Kotelly. “The question is one of degree.”
However, in a separate move, she also ordered the DoJ to comment on whether the nine state attorneys general can continue with their suit after the federal government has reached a settlement with Microsoft. The software giant argues that the nine outstanding states have no right to impose tougher sanctions that would be applicable in the other states with which the company has settled.