DOJ will defend Microsoft settlement

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken a pass on filing a brief in defense of its antitrust settlement with Microsoft in one case, but it still plans to defend the sanctions in a second case winding its way through an appeals court.

Last week, the DOJ notified the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that it would not file a "friend of the court" brief in the ongoing antitrust case Massachusetts and West Virginia have against Microsoft. But a DOJ spokeswoman said this week that the agency does plan to file a brief in an appeal brought by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) of the Microsoft antitrust settlement imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in November and approved by the Justice Department.

The DOJ plans to file an "amicus curiae" friend of the court brief on June 18, in line with the schedule set by the appeals court, the DOJ spokeswoman said. The agency will also present an oral argument on Nov. 4, when both the states' case and the CCIA/SIIA case will be argued before the appeals court.

Late last year, the CCIA and SIIA filed a motion to intervene in the settlement appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The groups, backed by some of Microsoft's top rivals, argue that the settlement is not stringent enough and does not serve the public's interest.

In January, Kollar-Kotelly denied the groups' motion to intervene in the Microsoft antitrust settlement, ruling that they failed to prove the settlement deal impairs their ability to protect their interests or that the settlement did not adequately represent them.

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