Microsoft Corp. and the Department of Justice have again been given more time to prepare a joint status report on the antitrust case, which was due to be filed before the U.S. District Court by noon EST Tuesday.
District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly told the parties late Monday that "in light of recent tragic events affecting the nation, the Court has received various requests for extensions of time. Specifically, all of the parties have requested an extension of time for the filing of the Joint Status Report.
"In addition, Defendant Microsoft has requested that the Status Conference date be vacated and rescheduled for a later date in order to facilitate travel by counsel. Both the United States and the States have consented to this request," she said.
As such, the deadline for the filing of the joint status report was moved to Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. EST. Last week the judge agreed to extend filing of the joint report to Sept. 18. It was originally scheduled to be filed by Sept. 14.
Kollar-Kotelly also ordered the parties to appear in her court on Sept. 28 at 9:30 to begin the new proceedings -- a week later than ordered last week.
Kollar-Kotelly was randomly assigned the case last month after the Appeals Court for the District of Columbia returned it to the district court for further consideration.
The appeals court in late June overturned the order by District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that Microsoft be broken into two companies as a remedy for anti-competitive practices. But it did uphold Jacksons finding that Microsoft held a monopoly in the market for computer operating systems and that it had used that power to engage in anti-competitive business practices that violated U.S. antitrust laws.
In an Aug. 28 order, Kollar-Kotelly ordered Microsoft and the Justice Department to present a joint status report to the court. That report needs to include the specific issues remaining to be resolved by the court, as well as identifying the need for specific additional evidentiary hearings; the appropriate measures to help resolve them, including the possible need for new evidence and the presentation of expert testimony; and the proposal of an appropriate schedule for all these matters.
That order was then followed by a surprise public announcement from the Justice Department and the 18 state attorneys general involved in the case, announcing that they would no longer pursue the breakup of Microsoft or the tying count of the original complaint -- essentially whether the integrating of the Internet Explorer browser to the Windows 95 and 98 operating systems was illegal.
Then, the week after that, Eliot Spitzer, the attorney general for New York, and Bill Lockyer, his Californian counterpart, warned that they would pursue "strong and effective relief that will promote competition and consumer choice in the marketplace."
Lockyer and Spitzer left no doubt that they would be pushing for relief, with or without the Justice Department, and that the remedy needed to address not just past harm but future behavior -- most notably the upcoming Windows XP operating system.
They also said they would press for additional remedies if they disagreed with those sought by the Justice Department.
Microsoft has also petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case, saying that the bias evidenced by Jackson was sufficient grounds to vacate his entire decision. But the High Court is not expected to announce whether it will hear the case until it reconvenes from its summer recess on the first Monday in October.