Microsoft Rejects States Proposals
Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday rejected out of hand the remedy proposals suggested by the nine dissenting states and the District of Columbia in the landmark antitrust case against the Redmond, Wash. software firm.
In its 36-page Proposed Final Judgment filed today in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, Microsoft said that proposed judgment was not "carefully crafted so as to ensure that the enjoined conduct falls within the penumbra of behavior which was found to be anticompetitive and, as such, is improper as a matter of law."
The only relief the dissenting states should be granted was that of the revised proposed final judgment submitted following the settlement reached between Microsoft, the Department of Justice and nine plaintiff states last month, the brief said.
This stands in sharp contrast to views expressed by Senators at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the proposed settlement on Wednesday morning.
At that hearing the Senators made it clear they wanted the District Court to consider the tougher remedy proposals filed by nine states.
In its brief, Microsoft also claimed the non-settling states had ignored the instructions of both the D.C. District Court and the Court of Appeals by deciding to pursue all of the conduct provisions of the vacated judgment; dramatically expanding those provisions; and requesting numerous additional provisions.
"As a result, their proposed judgment is substantially broader and much more onerous than the prior conduct provisions vacated by the Court of Appeals These entirely new provisions seem calculated to inflict maximum commercial harm on Microsoft. The principal beneficiaries of such provisions are not consumers, but rather the numerous Microsoft competitors found on the non-settling States preliminary witness list," Microsoft said.
The software firm went on to say that it was apparent, both from the terms of their proposal and from their comments to the press, that the non-settling States sought to punish Microsoft and to advance the commercial interests of powerful corporate constituents - Microsoft competitors such as Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracle Corp., Apple Computer Inc. and Palm Inc.. "Neither objective is appropriate under the antitrust laws," the brief said.
In addition, the non-settling States proposed relief was "tantamount to divestiture," Microsoft said. Imposing such sweeping relief would result in, among other things, the wholesale confiscation of its intellectual property and unprecedented governmental regulation of its product design decisions. In so doing, the non-settling States proposed judgment would harm not only Microsoft, but also numerous third parties and consumers, Microsoft said.
It went on to say that other provisions contained in the non-settling states proposed judgment were "simply unworkable" and depart markedly from positions previously taken by plaintiffs in this case. "What is more, many provisions of the non-settling States proposed judgment are directly contrary to the Court of Appeals liability determinations," it said.
Todays hearing and filing come just a day after the federal judge overseeing the settlement proposal for the antitrust-related class-action lawsuits against Microsoft said he was concerned about the settlement, designed to give the nations poorest schools computers and software worth a reported $1 billion.
As such, Judge J. Frederick Motz told the plaintiffs lawyers and Microsoft lawyers to meet with a mediator next Tuesday to work out more acceptable terms and to try and bring Californian plaintiffs on board.