Microsoft appeals open deposition ruling

Microsoft has appealed a ruling issued by US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that allows the media to attend depositions by senior company officials in preparation for a government antitrust suit. Microsoft has also suggested that all depositions could be recorded on videotape. Copies of the tape could then be made available to the public.

Microsoft has appealed a ruling issued by US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that allows the media to attend depositions by senior company officials in preparation for a government antitrust suit.

This morning Microsoft asked Jackson to stay yesterday's ruling, but the judge denied the request for stay, prompting the software maker to appeal the ruling to a higher court, a clerk for Jackson said. Microsoft also filed a stay motion with the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

After several media companies late last week requested access to the depositions of 16 witnesses in the case, including that of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, Jackson opened the depositions to the public, citing a provision of the Sherman Antitrust Act. At the same time, he stayed all depositions until an appropriate process can be worked out. Gates was originally scheduled to be deposed today.

The parties now need to continue to work out a process for the depositions.

Microsoft did not immediately return phone calls this afternoon.

Before the hearing Microsoft said it wanted to make sure that the pretrial discovery phase and the trial itself, set to open Sept. 8, stay on schedule, and it suggested that all depositions could be recorded on videotape. Copies of the tape could then be made available to the public.

The motions come in an antitrust lawsuit that the federal government and 20 U.S. states filed against Microsoft in May, alleging that the software maker is illegally using its dominance in the PC operating systems market to control other software markets, including the Internet.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at http://www.microsoft.com/. The US Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C., can be reached at http://www.usdoj.gov/. The New York Attorney General in Albany, the lead attorney in the lawsuit for the 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, is athttp://www.oag.state.ny.us/.

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