Microsoft up against 34 states in antitrust case

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18 March 2002 Microsoft is now facing the opposition of a total of 34 US states in its antitrust court case – up from nine until the end of last week.

When the US federal Justice Department reached a compromise with the US software giant as part of the antitrust court case that has tormented Microsoft for years, nine states supported it and nine other states rejected it. The ‘rogue’ states considered the compromise with the federal authorities too lenient. Microsoft dismissed the opposition of the nine states, arguing that a federal settlement should be binding on individual states.

Apart from the initial nine (supported by the District of Columbia, or Washington DC), another 25 US states filed briefs on 15 March declaring their opposition to the deal between Microsoft and the federal authorities, in what constitutes a significant setback for the company. Microsoft’s arguments have backfired, since the 25 states now opposing it appear chiefly keen to re-affirm the states’ jurisdiction over antitrust matters. By dismissing the nine states’ initial opposition, Microsoft has thus opened a Pandora’s box of constitutional controversy.

New York State filed a separate ‘brief’ similar to the other 24, which joined forces to file a common brief that refers to the ‘Clayton Act’ in order to buttress their prerogatives. (The Clayton Act gives states the right to litigate even though the federal government may have found an amicable solution to a dispute, the 24 states argue.)

The court case opposing the nine ‘rogue’ states to Microsoft re-opened today. The lawyers representing the nine states argued that Microsoft should be forced to make public the blueprints for ‘Internet Explorer’ (its Internet browser), in order to foster genuine competition in the market.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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