MS/DOJ - Supreme Court rebuffs Microsoft appeal

In a widely expected move, the US Supreme Court rejected Microsoft's appeal to overturn a lower court's ruling that the software behemoth violated antitrust laws, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

In a widely expected move, the US Supreme Court rejected Microsoft's appeal to overturn a lower court's ruling that the software behemoth violated antitrust laws, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

"We understood that very few cases are granted for review by the Supreme Court and we were disappointed that ours wasn't one of the very few," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in July of this year upheld a lower court ruling last June that Microsoft violated antitrust rules by holding a monopoly in the PC operating systems market.

Because the case remains before a lower court, the US District Court, legal experts thought it unlikely that the Supreme Court would take it at this time.

The coalition of state attorneys general pressing the suit along with the US Department of Justice are pleased that the Supreme Court declined to take up the Microsoft case, says Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller in a statement praising the District of Columbia appeals court decision as "unanimous and very well-reasoned."

The Supreme Court's decision leaves observers wondering if this was the last chance Microsoft had for a hearing at the court of final appeal.

"One can imagine other legal routes to get there, but this was their best chance and it was never very likely," says Jonathan Baker, a law professor at American University in Washington, DC.

The path back to the Supreme Court's door will likely lead through the hallways of a federal appeals court, noted another legal observer. The lower court must first issue a remedy order, constraining Microsoft's conduct, says Ernie Dellhorn, a law professor at George Mason University. From there, Microsoft must appeal to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia once again, first asking it to stay the lower court's order pending appeal, then to appeal the order itself.

The loser of the second round at the appeals court may then try for another chance at the Supreme Court, he says. "The progression is pretty straight forward," he says.

Microsoft's appeal to the Supreme Court while much of the case remains unresolved at the lower levels was "a Hail Mary pass that wasn't caught".

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