16 April 2002 The nine states demanding harsher restrictions to be imposed upon Microsoft have now rested their case.
The US Justice Department has also offered partial support for the basis of the nine states’ legal case. Microsoft will begin to make its case in court on Tuesday, when its first witness, the CEO of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, takes the stand.
In February 2002, Microsoft had asked the judge presiding over its case, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, to dismiss the nine states’ proposed restrictions. At the time the Justice Department did not comment on the issue, but in March Judge Kollar-Kotelly asked the department for its views.
Earlier this week the Justice Department declined to support Microsoft’s position. “The United States finds no definitive case law that would require granting the relief Microsoft seeks as a matter of law,” said the Justice Department in a brief filed with the court.
However, the Justice Department also pointed out that the federal government has more authority than individual states do, urging the judge to be “particularly cautious” with regards to the further sanctions demanded. The states’ case “is not an appropriate vehicle for pursuing the interest of private individuals or commercial entities,” said the brief.
Microsoft has long argued that the antitrust case was being fought for the benefit of its rivals such as Sun Microsystems and AOL Time Warner. In the coming weeks, the states’ lawyers will have ample opportunity to question Microsoft’s witnesses about its tactics.