Microsoft to depose AOL's Case, other executives

Even in the midst of settlement talks in its antitrust trial, Microsoft is aggressively seeking information from rival companies to show it is not a monopoly. The software giant will depose Steve Case, chief executive officer of America Online, another AOL executive and one executive each from Netscape Communications and Sun Microsystems in preparation for calling them as witnesses during the trial,

Even in the midst of settlement talks in its antitrust trial, Microsoft is aggressively seeking information from rival companies to show it is not a monopoly.

The software giant will depose Steve Case, chief executive officer of America Online, another AOL executive and one executive each from Netscape Communications and Sun Microsystems in preparation for calling them as witnesses during the trial, Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla said yesterday. The names of the other executives were not available.

Also, Microsoft submitted an emergency petition yesterday to U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, asking him to force AOL, Netscape and Sun to hand over any documents and e-mail related to AOL's March purchase of Netscape. AOL and Sun signed development agreements connected with AOL's acquisition of Netscape.

Microsoft wants to depose the executives to show how their business plans constitute a powerful challenge to Microsoft, Pilla said. "We believe they (the executives) will reinforce Microsoft's position that AOL, Netscape and Sun plan to compete vigorously in virtually all our business areas," he said.

The judge has not yet ruled whether AOL and Netscape should be forced to hand over more documents, according to Pilla. A previous Microsoft request for documents from AOL, Netscape and Sun yielded only three boxes of information, while the three companies gave 120 boxes to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of the review of AOL's purchase of Netscape, Pilla said.

AOL spokesman Jim Whitney confirmed Case was subpoenaed to testify in a deposition in connection with the trial but would not comment further. Sun spokeswoman Lisa Poulson said in an e-mail statement that "We believe we have already provided all of the relevant documents to Microsoft."

Netscape spokespeople could not be reached for comment today.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and DOJ lawyers continued settlement talks yesterday in an effort to resolve the antitrust lawsuit. Neither DOJ nor Microsoft representatives would comment on the talks.

The parties are to meet tomorrow for a status conference. The trial is in recess until April 12, although the judge may reschedule the date for its resumption.

Microsoft Corp., based in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/. Netscape, based in Mountain View, California, can be reached at +1-650-254-1900 or on the World Wide Web at http://www.netscape.com/. AOL, in Dulles, Virginia, can be reached at +1-703-448-8700 or at http://www.aol.com/. Sun Microsystems Inc., in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at +1-650-960-1300 or at http://www.sun.com/.

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