Government Rebuttal Due in MS/DOJ Case

BOSTON (01/25/2000) - Despite the huge snowstorm that caused the U.S. federal government to close Washington offices today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) still intends to release its brief refuting last week's court filing from Microsoft Corp. in the ongoing antitrust case.

A DOJ spokeswoman, speaking through a DOJ employee who was handling inquiries during today's snow emergency, said that the government will release its rebuttal of Microsoft's proposed conclusions of law sometime this afternoon. It was not clear if that means that the document will be officially filed given that court offices also are closed.

Microsoft last week filed its proposed conclusions of law in more than 100 pages that set forth how the software maker thinks U.S. antitrust law should be applied to U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's findings of fact in which he ruled that the company is a monopoly. [See "Microsoft Refutes Jackson's Monopoly Claim," Jan. 18. and "UPDATE: Judge Calls Microsoft a Monopoly," Nov. 5, 1999. ]Microsoft argued in its most recent court filing that just because its Windows operating system is popular, that does not make the company a monopolist. The DOJ and 19 state attorneys general allege that Microsoft used its monopoly power in the OS market to illegally squelch competition in the Internet browser arena. Windows 98 integrated Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser software into the OS.

The software maker has argued all along that it did not behave in an anticompetitive manner, and that integrating its browser with Windows benefits millions of consumers.

The government undoubtedly will beg to differ in its rebuttal filing today.

Although today's document from the DOJ is not likely to break new terrain, it is expected to reiterate the government's salient points.

A mediator appointed by Judge Jackson has been meeting with both sides to try to reach an agreement before the judge must issue a final ruling, expected by the middle of the year. Published reports have said that the government will propose breaking Microsoft into two or three separate companies.

Microsoft will have until Feb. 1 to respond to the government's rebuttal due today. Oral arguments in the case related to the proposed conclusions of law and subsequent rebuttals from each side are set for Feb. 22.

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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