IT Group Files Pro-Microsoft Friend of Court Brief

SAN FRANCISCO (01/31/2000) - Ahead of Microsoft Corp.'s rebuttal of the U.S. government's antitrust lawsuit due tomorrow, an IT group today filed a friend of the court (amicus curiae) brief in support of the software giant. Nonprofit organization the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), of which Microsoft is a member, claims to represent the interests of 9,000 IT companies.

ACT filed its 45-page brief to U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, the judge in charge of the antitrust case, the Washington-based organization said in a release issued today. Microsoft designated ACT as its "friend of the court" when Jackson asked for all sides in the case last year to choose an amicus. Members of ACT include Intel Corp. and Symantec Corp.

Other friend of the court briefs are due to be issued tomorrow on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the 19 U.S. states who filed the lawsuit against Microsoft, as well as an amicus brief on behalf of Judge Jackson.

Jackson has already designated Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig as his friend of the court, the identities of the other amici have yet to be revealed.

Last week, the U.S. government issued its rebuttal to Microsoft's proposed conclusions of law filed earlier this month in the ongoing antitrust case. [See "Government Rebuts Microsoft Antitrust Filing," Jan. 25.] Tomorrow will be the software maker's turn to rebut the government's rebuttal.

In November of last year, Judge Jackson issued his findings of fact in the case, ruling that Microsoft is a monopoly -- a key issue in the DOJ's case against the software giant. The antitrust trial filed against Microsoft by the DOJ and 19 U.S. states kicked off in October of last year and centers around allegations that the company misused its monopoly in the desktop operating systems market to crush competition from vendors of rival Internet browsers to Microsoft's own Internet Explorer software.

In today's brief, somewhat surprisingly, ACT agreed with Jackson that Microsoft is a monopoly. The organization said in today's filing that the software maker "holds a lawfully acquired monopoly" protected by "an applications barrier to entry."

However, ACT said that Microsoft's behavior did not violate antitrust laws as the U.S. government claims and disputes the DOJ allegations that Microsoft forced rival browser maker Netscape Communications Corp. (now owned by America Online Inc.) out of the market. "As an asset of by far the largest Internet access provider, AOL, (Netscape) Navigator remains a threat to dominate the browser market," ACT said in the brief.

Following tomorrow's rebuttal by Microsoft, the next stage of the ongoing case is the presentation of oral arguments from both sides concerning how they believe existing antitrust legislation should be applied to Judge Jackson's findings of fact. The oral arguments are scheduled to heard by Jackson on Feb.

22.

ACT, based in Washington, D.C., can be reached via the Internet at http://www.competitivetechnology.org/. The full text of the amicus brief filed by ACT can be read at http://www.competitivetechnology.org/pubs/Amicus%20Brief.PDF/. Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/. The Department of Justice, in Washington, can be reached at http://www.usdoj.gov/.

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