Legal Skirmishing Continues Between DOJ, Microsoft

BOSTON (06/14/2000) - Legal skirmishing in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case continued today with new court filings by both sides as they continue to battle over the potentially critical issue of where the company's appeal of last week's breakup order should be heard.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in its filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington that a request by Microsoft for a stay of the business-conduct remedies imposed on the company last week by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson was premature because Jackson should get first crack at deciding on whether to order a stay.

Microsoft filed its 39-page request for a stay that would prevent the conduct restrictions from taking effect in 90 days with the appeals court on Tuesday.

But the DOJ today claimed that Jackson still has jurisdiction over the case until he rules on the government's petition, also filed yesterday, that the judge expedite Microsoft's appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Justice Department said an expedited appeals process in this case is important to the economic welfare of the U.S. and global economies.

Legal analysts have said a direct appeal to the highest court could cut about a year off the whole appeals process, and the DOJ claims that expediting the process is important to the economic welfare of the U.S. and other countries.

But Microsoft prefers to send the case to the appeals court, which has ruled in the company's favor on antitrust issues in the past and yesterday immediately said it would hear the company's promised appeal.

Microsoft, in its latest filing to Jackson, today said it technically has 11 days to reply to the government's fast-track motion to send the case to the Supreme Court. But the company added that it will file its response in four days in order to keep to an agreed-upon procedural schedule.

Despite that promise, the DOJ hinted that Microsoft's tactics are delaying the case. "The district court is likely to rule on that motion (for direct appeal to the Supreme Court) within days; it could do so sooner, but Microsoft has asked to have until next Monday to reply to that motion," the government said in its filing with the appeals court.

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