Appeals court vacates antitrust ruling

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Thursday to send back to a lower court U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's decision in the government's landmark antitrust case against Microsoft.

The court also ruled that another judge should handle the case. It vacated Jackson's remedy of breaking up the company, but upheld the finding that Microsoft illegally tried to maintain a monopoly in operating systems.

Jackson in June of last year ordered the break up of Microsoft into two separate companies, with one focused on operating systems and the other on software applications. The DOJ and 17 of 19 state attorneys general that are plaintiffs in the case had recommended that ruling. Jackson further ordered a variety of behavioral remedies meant to curb, according to the government allegations, Microsoft's illegal use of its operating system monopoly to further its dominance in IT. The breakup and remedies were "stayed" while the appeals process continues.

Jackson ruled before he issued the break-up order that the company is in fact a monopoly and has used that power in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. It's not illegal under U.S. law for a company to be a monopoly. What is illegal is using that status to, among other things, squelch the competition.

(More to come)

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