DoJ, States Warn Court of Microsoft Delayed Compliance

Microsoft accused of dragging its feet in implementing some of the settlement terms.

Microsoft Corp., which was widely viewed as a triumphant victor last year in settling the penalties for its antitrust violations, appears to be dragging its feet in implementing some of the settlement terms, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the states that agreed to the deal.

Out of the 18 states plus the District of Columbia that sued Microsoft for antitrust violations, just one, Massachusetts, is continuing the fight. However, the parties that decided to put an end to the protracted litigation are now concerned that Microsoft isnt fully living up to its obligations, and they warned that the court might need to issue an order to ensure full compliance.

Of particular concern are Microsofts efforts in the realm of licensing certain communications protocols on reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms. The Justice Department plus the 16 states and the District of Columbia that accepted the settlement last year told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that they have prodded Microsoft to make additional changes, but they still have concerns. The court had singled out the communications protocol licensing requirement as the "most forward-looking provision" in the remedy settlement.

"While Plaintiffs are continuing to work with Microsoft to improve the [communications protocol licensing program] so that the Communications Protocols are licensed under RAND terms, Plaintiffs recognize that further steps may need to be taken, either pursuant to agreement or order of the Court, to account for Microsofts delayed implementation," the group told the court in an enforcement status report July 3.

The groups enforcement efforts of late have been largely targeted at investigating compliance with the communications protocol licensing provisions to make sure that alternative middleware can interoperate with Microsofts server operating system software. The group insisted that Microsoft revise the program, but it remains concerned about the royalty structure and rates, according to the enforcement filing. Additionally, most of the substantive complaints the Justice Department has received about the settlement focus on the communications protocol licensing, royalty structure and cost.

The 16 states that joined in the July 3 enforcement report are: New York, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, Minnesota and Utah. West Virginia agreed last month to a $21 million private settlement with Microsoft resolving its claims in the federal suit and in a class action suit, but it did not join in the July 3 report.