11 February 2002 Legal briefs issued by Microsoft have made it clear that the software giant will launch a determined counter-attack in its anti-trust battle.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and his second-in-command, CEO Steve Ballmer, are to testify at a remedy hearing scheduled for early March. In addition, the company has accused media giant AOL Time Warner and database vendor Oracle of helping to draft a harsh remedy proposal.
In the briefs, Microsoft makes clear that the only resolution to the almost four-year-old anti-trust trial it will accept is the settlement deal agreed in November 2001 with the Department of Justice (DoJ) and nine US states.
However, nine other states and the District of Columbia have rejected the deal and resumed litigation. A hearing about the DoJ settlement is tentatively scheduled for the week commencing 4 March. A separate remedy hearing involving the nine non-settling states commences the following week.
The forthcoming legal battle promises to be bitter. Both sides have contributed some 850 “facts of the case”, only a handful of which are undisputed by both sides. Microsoft’s briefs also accuse Oracle vice president Ken Glueck of being a “prime mover” in the states’ drafting of their remedy proposal. Microsoft made a similar accusation against AOL Time Warner in January 2002.
The disputing states argue that the DoJ settlement, while restricting some of Microsoft’s business practices, does not go far enough. Among their demands, they want Microsoft to give away the source code for its Internet Explorer web browser.