Microsoft, DOJ oppose group intervention

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Microsoft Monday filed their opposition to an attempt by trade groups to intervene in the government's antitrust case against the software juggernaut, claiming that the groups fall short of the minimum requirements for intervention.

The filings, submitted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, come in response to a motion issued by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) last month, seeking to intervene in the historic case.

The settlement of the antitrust case reached by Microsoft, the DOJ, and nine of the suing states was approved in November by U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

The CCIA and the SIIA have claimed that the government's settlement did not impose harsh enough remedies against the Redmond, Washington, software maker and they are seeking to intervene in the case under the Tunney Act, which stipulates that before entering any final antitrust judgment courts must consider the competitive impact of the judgment, as well as the effect on the public and individuals that have alleged injury from the antitrust complaint.

However, both the DOJ and Microsoft claimed in their separately filed opposition memoranda that the groups do not meet the Act's requirements for intervention, especially given that their opposition, according to Microsoft, "rests on the flawed assumption that it is 'imperative that the outcome of this case endure the greatest possible judicial scrutiny.' "The Microsoft memorandum goes on to say that "Neither the federal courts nor the parties should be required to endure further proceedings at the behest of trade associations that have made only vague claims of harm to their members....CCIA's and SIIAA's interests have been adequately represented throughout the litigation."

The opposition memoranda are part of a series of legal volleys that have erupted since the government settled with Microsoft. Under the settlement deal, the software maker is prohibited against retaliating against potentially rival computer and software makers, among other remedies.

Longtime Microsoft foes feel that the settlement deal did not go far enough, however, and are seeking more stringent measures. Last week, two groups representing consumers and software developers also tried to intervene in the settlement.

Two of the original suing states, West Virginia and Massachusetts, have said they will appeal the settlement.

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