YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


U.S. May Seek Wider Actions Against Microsoft

October 08, 1998| From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The federal government said Wednesday that if it wins a major antitrust trial proving that Microsoft Corp. abused monopoly power, it may seek additional remedies against the giant software company.

In a filing, the Justice Department and 20 states said if they win the case, some relief would be needed immediately. The government laid out those sanctions in May, when it filed suit against Microsoft.

The department also said for the first time that it might widen the remedies it seeks, dropping the comments into routine papers that are filed by both sides shortly before a trial begins.

Separately, the government and Microsoft jointly asked for a four-day delay in the start of the trial to Oct. 19, but the judge has yet to rule on that request.

Some critics have said that a government victory would have little effect on Microsoft, which would find the proposed sanctions as obsolete as yesterday's software.

"Depending on the nature and scope of the violations determined by the court at trial, plaintiffs will seek such additional permanent relief as is necessary to restore competitive conditions and to prevent Microsoft from committing similar violations in the future," the government said in its pretrial statement.

"To that end, plaintiffs may request that the court conduct additional proceedings for the purpose of hearing evidence concerning such additional relief," it said.

A Microsoft spokesman said the government's statement was one more example of the government trying to broaden the case.

"This just spotlights the fact that the government's case has completely changed from what it filed back in May," said Jim Cullinan. "And they are now trying to go forward at trial with a case that is brand-new."

The government alleges that Microsoft illegally preserved and tried to extend the dominance of its operating system software for personal computers.

The charges focus largely on Microsoft's tactics in competing against Netscape Communications Corp. in the market for browsers to navigate the World Wide Web.

During that battle, Microsoft began giving its browser away. Microsoft says it has now integrated the browser functions into its Windows 98 operating system so that the browser cannot be separated as a stand-alone product.

As a result, Netscape says its revenue no longer depends on the browser, which it also gives away for free.

The government has already moved to introduce other examples of Microsoft's conduct to help prove its case. Microsoft has objected, arguing it would need substantially more time to prepare if new issues are raised.

Los Angeles Times Articles