Microsoft asks court to close depositions to public

Microsoft has asked the US District Court judge overseeing the ongoing antitrust case against the software maker to vacate a previous order that depositions in the lawsuit be open to the public.

          Microsoft has asked the US District Court judge overseeing the ongoing antitrust case against the software maker to vacate a previous order that depositions in the lawsuit be open to the public.

          Because the case now involves only the nine states and the District of Columbia that refused to sign a proposed settlement agreed to by Microsoft, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and nine other state attorneys general, the previous ruling no longer applies, Microsoft argued in a court document filed Wednesday. The previous ruling that ordered public depositions, which were sought by various media outlets that wanted to report about the depositions as they occurred, involves a federal statute that pertains only to cases in which the US government is a plaintiff, the court document said.

          Now that the DOJ has agreed to settle its antitrust claims against Microsoft, the statute no longer applies, the company contends. The statute only applied to the states' case previously because they were part of the US government lawsuit. But the lawsuit has been split into two "tracks," with the DOJ and settling states in one track, and the nine hold-out states and the District of Columbia in the other.

          Depositions are statements from witnesses taken prior to trials or, in this case, court hearings involving what remedies should be imposed to stop Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior.

          The states still involved in the case do not plan to oppose the motion to vacate the order, Microsoft said in the document.

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