Attorneys General Ponder Remedies in MS Case

SAN FRANCISCO (04/03/2000) - The U.S. state attorneys general in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case said today they were never far apart from their partners, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in failed negotiations to settle the lawsuit this past weekend. Reports circulating over the weekend suggested that the partners weren't seeing eye-to-eye in the case.

Now that U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has ruled that Microsoft violated federal and U.S. state antitrust laws, the attorneys general said they are looking for significant remedies.

"We want an effective result that makes a difference for consumers and brings competition to the industry," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said today during a teleconference following the judge's ruling.

The attorneys general downplayed reports this weekend that they insisted on breaking up Microsoft and thereby doomed settlement talks.

"The states and the Department of Justice have been in agreement on just about every important part of the case, with an occasional difference," Miller said.

"At every important juncture, the AGs (attorneys general) and the DOJ have been on the same page."

Given that the judge has now found in the plaintiffs' favor in more than 20 claims against Microsoft, the attorneys general said they are expecting action to be taken against the software vendor.

"The judge's ruling holds open the full range of possibilities," MiIler said, declining, with the other attorneys general, to talk specifically about negotiating points.

The judge will most likely impose a unified, nationwide remedy on Microsoft, avoiding multiple varieties that might arise from state to state.

Microsoft may be regretting its decision to spurn a settlement, said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

"The judge has put Microsoft in a bind. They are left with a remote chance on appeal," he said.

"Microsoft, despite all their naysaying, is wishing they didn't oppose us and the Justice Department (in negotiations this weekend)," Spitzer added.

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