SAN FRANCISCO (02/01/2000) - A powerful software industry association that counts Microsoft Corp. among its members today urged the judge overseeing the U.S. government's antitrust case against Microsoft to find that the company has violated antitrust laws.
The association -- The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) -- made its recommendation in a "friend of the court brief" filed today on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which is pursuing the case against Microsoft along with 19 U.S. states.
The filing was one of a handful of such "friend of the court" briefs filed both yesterday and today which could help shape the opinion of U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson as he nears a final ruling in the case. Other briefs were filed on behalf of Microsoft, and the U.S. states, while a fourth, by noted Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, was filed at the request of Jackson himself. [See "Lessig Urges Judge to Get Into the Code," Feb. 1.]The SIIA brief referred often to the opinions expressed in Jackson's findings of fact, a preliminary ruling issued last November in which the judge deemed Microsoft to be a monopoly that has harmed competition and consumers. [See "UPDATE: Judge Calls Microsoft a Monopoly," Nov. 5, 1999.]"This court's Findings of Fact ring true to SIIA," the association wrote in its filing. Microsoft has behaved anticompetitively, and the court should conclude from its actions that the software vendor has indeed violated antitrust laws, it said. To reach any other conclusion, the SIIA said, would "effectively nullify" the legal protections to competition.
"We acknowledge that a successful company such as Microsoft can lawfully obtain and retain a large market share, and can compete vigorously to the detriment of smaller rivals," the SIIA said in its brief. "The antitrust laws have established limits on permissible conduct by a company with monopoly power, however, and Microsoft has flagrantly exceeded those limits."
The SIIA claims to be the world's largest trade association representing companies in the software, information and Internet industries. Microsoft is a member of SIIA's elected 19-member board. While the software maker doesn't share the majority viewpoint of the organization, Microsoft had a "full opportunity" to share its views on the matters discussed in the brief, the SIIA said in the filing.
The 19-member board met Jan. 24 and voted by secret ballot in favor of filing the brief, the SIIA said.
The full text of the SIIA's amicus brief is on the association's Web site, at http://www.siia.net/SIIAamicus.htm/.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/. The DOJ, in Washington, D.C., can be reached at http://www.usdoj.gov/.