Observers unsurprised by antitrust development

Observers are unsurprised and undeterred about a federal appeals court's decisions to shove the antitrust case against Microsoft into reverse.

          Observers are unsurprised and undeterred about a federal appeals court's decisions to shove the antitrust case against Microsoft into reverse.

          "We can't be surprised by this decision in reaction to Judge Jackson's conduct, which was widely criticised at the time and now has also been criticised by the Court of Appeals," comments Ken Wasch, president of the Software & Information Industry Association.

          "But let's keep our eye on the ball. Two of the three causes of action in this case were upheld and it's being remanded to a new judge for review of the remedies," Wasch says. "We believe this holds great promise."

          The Computer & Communications Industry Association also applauds the court's action in one of the most important antitrust cases in US history.

          "Today's ruling by the Appeals Court is a powerful statement because it underlines the reality that even the 'new economy' cannot be based on lawless anticompetitive behavior," says CCIA President Ed Black. "A monopoly company may not practice predation, nor institute other exclusionary barriers to competition."

          Microsoft's still a monopoly

          Under US antitrust law, it is not illegal for a company to be a monopoly, but it is against the law for a monopolist to engage in anticompetitive behaviour.

          The US Department of Justice and a group of state attorneys general filed the federal lawsuit three years ago. They argued that Microsoft has illegally used the power it has garnered because Windows is used in the vast majority of computers globally. They contend Microsoft used that power to illegally make inroads into other markets and squelch competitors.

          The appeals court says that Microsoft's appeal fails to challenge the factual findings from the district court. It also fails to argue that Jackson's findings in the case did not support his conclusions, the appeals decision says.

          That failure "infects many of the company's monopoly power claims" in its appeal, the ruling found, covering examples point by point, paying particular attention to the issue of middleware, the court says.

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