Seven States Accept Court Ruling on Microsoft Case

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2002-12-09

Despite the decision by officials in Massachusetts and West Virginia to appeal the ruling in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case, other states that sought stiffer penalties said they will not pursue further litigation.

Thomas Miller, attorney general for Iowa, who led the dissenting states case against the Redmond, Wash., company, issued a statement saying, "Seven states and the District of Columbia will not appeal Judge [Colleen] Kollar-Kotellys decree. We will move on to enforcing the decree on behalf of consumers and fair competition."

Miller said he wished the two appealing states well in their legal efforts.

According to Miller, Kollar-Kotellys ruling requires Microsoft to pay the states $28.6 million to cover legal fees and the cost of enforcement. The states can petition the court for additional enforcement funds later, he added.

Mark Cooper, research director for the Washington-based Consumer Federation of America, took issue with the states that accepted the federal judges ruling.

"We believe the American consumer will continue to be victimized by Microsofts abuse of monopoly power under the proposed remedy," Cooper said. "More importantly, the court has so narrowed the effect of the antitrust laws as to render them useless to promote competition and protect consumers.

"We are confident that several aspects of the remedy will be strengthened as a result of appeal. [Massachusetts] made the responsible decision ... to fight for more vigorous principles of competition and consumer protection," Cooper said. "This case will set the standard for antitrust in the 21st century, and the remedy deserves a thorough review by the appeals court."

Miller agreed that "Microsoft broke the law. The company was judged to be a monopolist that abused its monopoly power and violated antitrust laws."

The case "exposed the companys illegal practices, and now the world looks differently at Microsoft," Miller said. "Indeed, the world is watching Microsofts conduct. We will be vigilant and hold the company to compliance, to make certain that Microsoft does not abuse its extraordinary market power in violation of the law."

Miller said the dissenting states made progress in the case beyond that made by the U.S. Department of Justice in its settlement.

"Loopholes were closed," he said. "We strengthened the ability of entrepreneurs to create and offer products that would work with Microsofts Windows operating system. The court strengthened enforcement procedures by ordering independent Microsoft board member oversight and requiring a compliance officer to report if there are possible violations. This antitrust case has been good for competition, good for innovation, good for business and, most important, good for consumers. We will continue to pursue these benefits through vigilant enforcement."

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