- The nine justices of the US Supreme Court have announced they have declined to hear Microsoft's appeal of the US government's antitrust case, and it will now be sent back to a federal appeals court.
The court's decision comes after Microsoft and US Department of Justice (DOJ) officials traded written arguments during the past two months over what court should have jurisdiction over the software company's appeal. Microsoft contended it should go through traditional channels and be given to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
The Redmond, Washington-based software giant argued an appeal was warranted because the lawsuit filed against it by the DOJ and 19 US states was full of factual and legal errors. And a spokesman for the company said it is still confident that it will prevail on its appeal.
"Microsoft is confident to our case of appeal," said Jim Cullinan, a Microsoft spokesman, minutes after the court's decision. "Our appeal will outline a number of legal, factual and procedural errors. We were confident of our case, whether the Supreme Court and/or court of appeals heard it. While it is a complex appeal, it could have been heard by either court."
In contrast, DOJ and state prosecutors had said compelling public interest should lead the US Supreme Court to review the Microsoft antitrust case. They stated to the court that effective remedies could restore competitive conditions, protect consumers and allow the software industry to move forward.
The DOJ sought Supreme Court review under the Expediting Act, which allows sensitive antitrust cases to be directly reviewed by the Supreme Court. Typically, a normal appeal process would move from the U.S. district court level and would progress to the one of the country's 12 circuit courts.
US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson on June 7 ordered that Microsoft be split into two companies: an applications company and one focused on operating systems. He also ruled that Microsoft is subject to a set of behavioral remedies. Those remedies have been put on hold until the appeals process is completed.