WASHINGTON — Arguing that each day of delay hurts consumers, the Justice Department filed its opposition Friday to Microsoft Corp.'s request to delay the long-running antitrust battle until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case.
"Granting a stay would further delay the public's remedy and contribute to uncertainty in the market," the government said.
Earlier this week, Microsoft asked the Supreme Court to throw out a June 28 appeals court ruling that found Microsoft violated federal antitrust laws. The Redmond, Wash.-based company is seeking a new trial because U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who presided over the first trial, improperly discussed the case with reporters.
"We've asked the Supreme Court to review an important issue," said Microsoft spokesman Vivek Varma. "We believe the process is best served by waiting for resolution of that matter before proceeding."
Varma added that the company still hopes to resolve the case through a settlement. Shares of Microsoft rose 51 cents to $65.52 on Nasdaq.
In their filing Friday, government attorneys characterized Jackson's actions as "serious misconduct" but said the federal appeals court had already punished Jackson by throwing out his order to break Microsoft in two and removing him from the case. They also said it was unlikely that the Supreme Court would accept the case.
Noting that Microsoft is preparing to launch its Windows XP operating system, antitrust officials said they wanted to return to federal court as quickly as possible to determine a proper punishment for Microsoft.
"Because of its monopoly position, Microsoft's products and conduct overhang the market," the government's filing stated. "The sooner remedial proceedings begin, the sooner a resolution can be crafted to assure competitive conditions and give industry participants the certainty they need to plan or commit resources efficiently."
Critics say Windows XP, which will be bundled with a variety of new software features, will allow Microsoft to leverage its operating system monopoly into new markets, including instant messaging.
Government officials are expected to seek modifications in Windows XP--set to be released Oct. 25--as part of a court-ordered remedy or voluntary settlement.
Times staff writer Joseph Menn contributed to this report.