Microsoft, DOJ Oppose Calif. Plaintiffs

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-02-11

Attorneys for Microsoft Corp. and the Department of Justice on Monday filed memoranda asking Washington D.C. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to reject a Jan. 28 motion from a group of California plaintiffs to either intervene in the Tunney Act settlement proceedings currently before the court or to file an Amicus Curiae (friend of the Court) brief.

The requests for intervention come as Kollar-Kotelly reviews the Microsoft Corp./U.S. Department of Justice antitrust settlement proposal and before she begins hearing a parallel case for tougher remedies brought by nine states that rejected the settlement deal.

The California plaintiffs are the same group that has brought private antitrust actions against Microsoft for damages and which was successful in helping convince Maryland Federal District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz to reject a proposed settlement plan for the 100-odd private, class-action antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft.

These private antitrust cases were mostly brought 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.

In its seven-page filing today, Microsoft said the California plaintiffs "have brought their own action in California state court against Microsoft seeking damages, and rulings by the Court of Appeals and this Court may or may not have some relevance in that case in the future. That, however, is a matter to be addressed in due course by the California courts.

"The California Plaintiffs have no property interest in this action, and all of the matters the California Plaintiffs raise have been submitted to the United States as comments and will be available to the public and to the Court pursuant to the Tunney Act comment procedures in this case. No right to further participation exists," it said.

As such, both Microsoft and the DOJ opposed the motions and asked the Judge to deny them.

This latest round of filings in the landmark antitrust case follows those last week where the author and inventor of an economic method for preventing collusion used his company, Relpromax Antitrust Inc., to file motions allowing the firm to participate as a "friend of the Court" and for an extension of time in the Tunney Act proceedings.

But more such memoranda are likely given that the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) has also asked the court for leave to intervene or participate as amicus curiae for "the limited purpose of responding to certain procedural proposals in the joint status report."

The Project to Promote Competition and Innovation in the Digital Age (ProComp) has also filed a motion for limited intervention or Tunney Act participation, while SBC Communications, Inc has also asked the court for permission to intervene for a limited purpose or, in the alternative to appear as a friend of the court.

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