It took the U.S. military less than one month to occupy Baghdad, but the states battling Microsoft Corp. because of its antitrust violations are gearing up for a sixth year of fighting.
Massachusetts and West Virginia this week attacked the court-approved antitrust remedies that the government agreed to in November 2001.
Nine states and the District of Columbia refused to sign the remedy settlement when the Department of Justice signed it in 2001, but only Attorneys General Thomas Reilly of Massachusetts and Darrell McGraw of West Virginia decided to continue the battle after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved the settlement last year. In a brief field with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Monday, the two states argued that the remedies do not stop Microsofts illegal conduct, restore competitive conditions, or deny the Redmond, Wash., software giant the fruits of its anti-competitive behavior.
A major sticking point for the states is that the remedy does not require Microsoft to unbundle middleware code (for example, Internet Explorer code) from the Windows operating system. It does allow users and original equipment manufacturers to remove the middleware icon from the desktop. The so-called commingling problem was a key issue in the courts ruling that Microsoft illegally sustained a monopoly in the Intel-compatible PC operating system market.
"Only wishful thinking supports the district courts finding" that allowing OEMs and users to remove access to Internet Explorer will reduce the anti-competitive effect on rival software, the states wrote in their brief to the court.
In the next round of court appearances, scheduled for November, Microsofts adversaries will bring some celebrity power to the proceedings. Representing two trade groups seeking to bolster the states arguments will be Robert Bork and Ken Starr. Bork, a former judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, became a household name when the Senate rejected his 1987 nomination to the Supreme Court following an acrimonious nomination process.