Judge Concerned Over Microsoft Deal
Maryland Federal District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz on Tuesday expressed concern about including California in the proposed settlement of more than 100 private antitrust suits against Microsoft Corp.
The private antitrust cases were brought against Microsoft last year following the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that the Redmond, Wash., company had violated two sections of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Judge Motz has been hearing arguments from parties for and against the proposed settlement, with Microsoft presenting its case on Monday .
Some Californian class-action lawyers have opposed the deal and have asked the Judge to strike down the settlement or allow their lawsuits to proceed separately in California. They feel the settlement negotiated by Microsoft and the other class-action lawyers is a ploy designed to entrench the Windows monopoly while allowing the company to pay only a tiny fraction of what it actually owes consumers.
Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler told eWeek today that Microsoft and lawyers representing plaintiffs from California will meet next Tuesday to see if they can find a way to bring California on board.
"The settlement we have negotiated is a national one and so the judge and all the other parties would like to work towards including California in it," Desler said.
In a meeting with the parties this morning in Baltimore, Motz had expressed concern about including California in the proposed settlement given its objections and, as such, had encouraged the parties to try and resolve the matter, Desler said.
Judge Motz also confirmed his intention to make a decision in the matter fairly quickly, probably within the next two weeks, Desler said.
Microsoft also faces further legal battles this week. On Wednesday the U.S. Senates Judiciary Committee is scheduled to examine the credibility of the proposed antitrust settlement between Microsoft and the federal government. It will hear testimony from the U.S. Justice Department, attorneys general from states in favor and opposed to the settlement, and from a Microsoft executive or lawyer.
Desler said Microsoft would be represented by legal counsel and that no executives would appear before the committee.
Also on Wednesday, Microsoft will file its response to the proposals suggested last week by the nine states and the District of Columbia who refused to sign the settlement between the federal government and Microsoft.
Desler said he expected the software firm to file its proposal sometime in the afternoon following its appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.