DOJ, Microsoft Spar over Pace of Appeal

Having lost its bid last month to take the Microsoft antitrust case directly to the Supreme Court, the U.S. government is now fighting to ensure that the case gets a speedy appeals review.

Microsoft asked the U.S. District Court of Appeals for an approximately five-month timetable for written briefs. The U.S. Department of Justice and 19 states involved in this case want to wrap up the written appeals process by year's end.

Saying that the case "threatens Microsoft's very existence," the company is accusing the government of trying to "short-circuit" the appeals process. The appeals court will determine the written briefing schedule. The court is expected to act swiftly and may release its order next week.

The government's goal, say legal experts, is for the appeals court to complete its review by next fall, in time for the next session of the Supreme Court.

Microsoft has also asked that the appeals court guidelines of 14,000 words for primary briefs be expanded to 56,000 words because of the case's complexity. The government said principal briefs should be limited to 24,000 words.

In June, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that Microsoft be split in two and subjected to behavioral remedies, which have been put on hold until the appeals process is completed.

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