Washington District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on Wednesday ordered Microsoft Corp. and the nine dissenting states in the antitrust case against the company to appear for a hearing next Monday.
This order follows a flurry of filings over the past two weeks, with the Redmond, Wash., software maker asking Kollar-Kotelly to delay the matter by four months and the nine dissenting states immediately rejecting any delay.
Microsoft said in its recent memorandum that "the Court should extend the current schedule by at least four months … and also respectfully requests an oral hearing on its motion."
It said the delay was necessary as the non-settling states "freely acknowledge that their remedy proposals "are fundamentally different than the remedy proposals embodied in the DOJ settlement."
The non-settling states acknowledged that their proposed remedies were broader in scope than the conduct provisions of the prior judgment, despite the fact that the Court of Appeals drastically altered the scope of Microsofts liability.
The non-settling states further suggested that the Court should hold the evidentiary hearing on their claims for relief "before it reaches any conclusion about whether the proposed final judgment passed statutory muster under the Tunney Act.
"In other words, the non-settling States now appear to request that the Court delay the completion of Track I so that Track I can be overtaken by Track II. On November 6, 2001, the Court told the parties that after giving the matter much thought, it had concluded that its review of the proposed final judgment will go forward first under the Tunney Act," Microsoft said.
But the nine dissenting states responded by saying it had now been more than three years since the commencement of the liability trial, which ultimately resulted in the en banc Court of Appeals finding Microsoft liable for unlawful monopolization.
"As the Court of Appeals noted, it has been over six years since Microsoft first began its extensive illegal campaign, and six years seems like an eternity in the computer industry. It is no surprise that Microsoft would like to continue to delay the proceeding that most threatens to deprive it of the ability to engage in the practices condemned as unlawful by the Court of Appeals," they said.
The Courts existing Scheduling Order remained the best path to the prompt imposition of a remedy that would prevent further harm to competition and consumers, the states said in their response.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, the leader of the nine States and the District of Columbia that are pursuing the antitrust case against Microsoft Corp, also said in a statement that "the States will be ready to proceed, and Microsoft can be ready, too. We have proposed reasonable remedies and the judge has set a reasonable schedule. Lets get on to the conclusion of this case so we can prevent further harm to competition and consumers."