Court sides with Microsoft in procedural matter

By Patrick Thibodeau, Computer World |  Business

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Court of Appeals has sided with Microsoft Corp. in a procedural matter, limiting the ability of the company's opponents to fire separate volleys in the government's antitrust case.

The court, in a ruling released late Friday, is restricting Microsoft's opponents, which include Dulles, Va.-based America Online Inc., to filing a single joint brief that's expected to support the government's antitrust action. Microsoft, in legal papers filed last week, said the filing of separate briefs by its opponents would be "unfair."

In the schedule set by the court, AOL, the Project to Promote Competition & Innovation in the Digital Age, the Software & Information Industry Association and the Computer and Communications Industry Association will have to submit a joint brief by Jan. 12.

Groups expected to support Microsoft's position will be able to file two joint briefs. The Association of Competitive Technology and the Computing Technology Industry Association will file one brief, and the Association for Objective Law and the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism will also file a brief. Those are due Nov. 27.

Several individuals were also given the court's permission to file briefs.

Lee A. Hollaar, a professor of computer science at the University of Utah and the primary technical expert for Caldera Inc. and Bristol Technology Inc. in their respective lawsuits against Microsoft, will file a brief.

Laura Bennett Peterson, a former law professor at Suffolk University in Boston, a former visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and an economist at the President's Council of Economic Advisers during the Nixon administration, said her filing would be "nonpartisan" and could raise arguments in support of each side.

The court is also allowing Carl Lundgren, an economist, to file a brief.

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