MS/DOJ: Trial goes back on front burner

Microsoft's antitrust battle with the US Department of Justice will heat up again today, with each side due to submit lengthy filings to the federal courthouse in which they spell out the facts of the case so far as they see them.

Microsoft's antitrust battle with the US Department of Justice will heat up again today, with each side due to submit lengthy filings to the federal courthouse in which they spell out the facts of the case so far as they see them.

Microsoft's "finding of fact," as it's called, runs to about 400 pages and argues that the DOJ has failed to prove some of the key elements of its antitrust lawsuit filed in May 1998 by the US government and 19 states.

In particular, Microsoft will argue that the government has failed to support its contention that the software giant illegally "tied" its Internet Explorer browser to its Windows operating system in a bid to harm rival Netscape Communications, said Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan.

"They didn't identify Internet Explorer as a separate product because Internet Explorer is a fully integrated part of the (Windows operating system), and that decision was made long before Netscape was formed as a company," Cullinan said today.

Microsoft will also assert in its filing that the DOJ failed to show that the software vendor's behavior harmed consumers, he added.

The DOJ today declined to comment on the substance of its own filing; a DOJ spokeswoman would say only that the document is "lengthy."

The government has charged Microsoft with a pattern of aggressive behavior which it says was designed to protect the software giant's monopoly in the desktop software market, and extend that monopoly to the Internet.

Findings of fact essentially allow each party to present to the judge the facts presented in the case as they see them. The parties will review each other's filings, and then they have until Sept. 10 to submit a revised version to the court.

The schedule calls for each side to be back in court Sept. 21 to present closing arguments to Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. Jackson will then render his own version of the facts heard in the case.

Microsoft and the DOJ will then submit briefs in which they discuss what laws come into play and how they believe those laws should be applied in this case.

Both parties have said they will make their findings of fact public tomorrow on their respective Web sites. Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, is at http://www.microsoft.com/. The DOJ is at http://www.usdoj.gov/.

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