DOJ: Microsoft Clearly Broke Law, Harmed Consumers

WASHINGTON (04/03/2000) - U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's ruling today in the antitrust case bought by the U.S. government against Microsoft Corp., indicates that the software maker clearly broke the law and harmed consumers, according to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Assistant U.S. Attorney General Joel Klein.

The pair made their remarks in a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press conference here this afternoon after the judge had issued his conclusions of law where he determined that Microsoft had violated federal and U.S. state antitrust laws.

"I think it is a very strong opinion in the critical areas of monopolization and attempt to monopolize," said Klein. He also urged all Americans to read Jackson's opinion and give it "their careful attention." The DOJ has posted the judge's conclusions of law issued today on its Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/atr.

Asked about the possibility of a settlement, Klein said that it was still possible.

"As we have said all along, the department is always prepared to settle so long as the remedy will deal with the legal violations that have now been fully established by the court," Klein said. "On those terms, we are glad to engage in a settlement."

He said the DOJ would seek a remedy that it believes will have an enduring impact.

"These violations occurred shortly after Microsoft entered a consent decree with the department some five years ago, and I believe it is appropriate to have a remedy that ensures that we not have this continued pattern of antitrust violence."

Over the course of the antitrust case, the DOJ's work with its partners in bringing the lawsuit, the U.S. state attorney general, was "constructive and very professional." The two parties have seen eye-to-eye on most matters, but Klein acknowledged that there had been some disagreements. However, the DOJ and the state attorneys general intend to go forward "with a consistent view," he said.

Tom Miller, attorney general of Iowa, said the DOJ and the U.S. states have agreed on the antitrust litigation against Microsoft at each crucial stage.

However, he added that the different entities "have discussions where we don't agree on every point." Reports circulated over the weekend that the attorneys general insisted on breaking up Microsoft and thereby doomed settlement talks.

The DOJ and the U.S. states share the same goal of having competition put back in the technology, Miller said.

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