MS/DOJ: Microsoft, DOJ agree to schedule for appeals

Microsoft and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday agreed to accelerate the schedule for presenting written arguments to the US Supreme Court on whether it should hear the company's appeal of the breakup order issued earlier this month by US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.

US Solicitor General Seth Waxman sent a letter to the Supreme Court saying that Microsoft plans to submit an initial brief by July 26. The DOJ would then respond by August 15 and Microsoft would have until August 22 to issue a reply to the government's filing if it deems one is necessary, according to Waxman's letter.

The schedule detailed on Thursday could allow the Supreme Court to decide if it wants to hear the antitrust case during its next session, which is due to begin in October, or send it to the US Court of Appeals in Washington first.

In the wake of Jackson's breakup order, Microsoft and the DOJ are waging a furious legal battle over the potentially critical issue of which court will hear the company's promised appeal of the breakup order.

Microsoft has filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals, which has sided with the company on earlier antitrust-related decisions and quickly said that it would take the case. But the DOJ is trying to expedite the appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that doing so "is in the public interest because of (the antitrust case's) importance to the American economy".

On Tuesday, Jackson sided with the DOJ and sent the appeal directly to the Supreme Court. In a surprise move, the judge also postponed the implementation of the breakup plan and of a set of restrictions on Microsoft's business conduct until the company's appeal is heard.

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