Supreme Court May Hear Antitrust Case

SAN MATEO (06/23/2000) - The legal proceeding surrounding the U.S. government's antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. appeared to take on a clearer course last week as the federal judge overseeing the case sent it directly to the U.S.

Supreme Court, relying on a little-used law to bypass an appeals court.

However, in a victory for Microsoft, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson granted a stay on strict restrictions of Microsoft's business practices, which would mean potentially significant changes to Microsoft operations, while it appealed the case.

The company and Jackson also worked out a schedule to file Microsoft's appeal, which is due July 26. The government will reply Aug. 15, and Microsoft will have another week to respond to the government's reply.

This week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which already has expressed interest in hearing the case, said it would await the Supreme Court's decision before taking any action.

The Supreme Court might decide not to hear the case and send it back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which this week made preparations to hear the case.

Microsoft has hoped that the case would go to the appeals court, which has ruled in the software giant's favor in the past. The U.S. Department of Justice, on the other hand, asked Jackson to send the case directly to the high court, saying a resolution to the case is too important to be further delayed.

On June 7, Jackson issued his ruling that Microsoft be split into two companies as a remedy to its antitrust violations and imposed regulations on Microsoft's practices.

In April, Jackson found Microsoft guilty in the two-year antitrust case, saying the company had illegally used its Windows operating system monopoly to thwart competition.

The Redmond, Washington -based Microsoft immediately appealed Jackson's decisions.

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