Judge says trade groups can't appeal ruling

A federal judge has denied attempts by software and technology trade groups to intervene in the U.S. government's historic antitrust settlement with Microsoft.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said that the groups failed to prove that the settlement deal impaired their ability to protect their interests, or that the settlement did not adequately represent them in the case.

The decision comes after the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) filed a motion last month with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to intervene in the government's settlement with Microsoft. The groups claimed that the settlement reached last November was not stringent enough and did not serve in the public's interest. Non-parties seeking to challenge a consent judgment via appeal must first seek to intervene in the proceedings.

In their motion, the groups cited the Tunney Act, which stipulates that before entering any final antitrust judgment courts must consider the competitive impact of the judgment as well as the effect on the public.

Although Kollar-Kotelly found that the groups failed to prove that the settlement does not protect their interests, she did say that the groups could pursue their own antitrust actions against Microsoft. Members of the trade groups include Microsoft rivals such as AOL Time Warner and Sun Microsystems.

Microsoft representatives were not immediately available to comment on the decision.

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