Microsoft takes another stab at Justice Department's breakup argument

SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. filed an unexpected brief in federal court on Monday, expanding on its argument against the Justice Department's plan to break up the software giant due to antitrust violations.

Microsoft said in its brief, filed in Washington, D.C., that the government argued against breakup in a previous case against the company.

Microsoft quoted from a Justice Department filing that said in part, ''such remedies would not necessarily benefit competition and would ... act against the public.''

The 1995 case ended in a settlement and consent decree, which the Justice Department later accused Microsoft of violating. That action eventually led to the Justice Department and 19 states filing an antitrust lawsuit against the company in May 1998.

''The quotes from previous government submissions clearly seem irrelevant since they involve a different case with very distinct claims and legal issues at a different point in time,'' said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, one of the state attorneys general leading the states' case. ''This record speaks very compellingly for the remedy we proposed, and truly no case has been exactly like this.''

There was no comment from the Justice Department on Microsoft's latest filing.

Microsoft and the Justice Department are to meet in U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's Washington courtroom on Wednesday for a hearing on how the voluminous case should proceed. Microsoft has requested up to six additional months to gather evidence and expert testimony to respond to the government's remedy proposal.

Last month, the Justice Department and 17 of the 19 states filed a proposal to break up Microsoft into two parts - one to develop the Windows operating system for personal computers and corporate networks, and the other to develop Microsoft's other software and Internet properties. Monday's filing was Microsoft's second response to that plan.

In its filing, Microsoft also argued that the government did not provide proof that Microsoft's actions caused other technologies to be stifled.


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