IT group files pro-Microsoft friend-of-court brief

www.infoworld.com |  Business

Ahead of Microsoft's rebuttal of the U.S. government's antitrust lawsuit, due
Tuesday, an IT group on Monday filed a friend-of-the-court (amicus curiae) brief in
support of the software giant.

Nonprofit organization the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), of which
Microsoft is a member, claims to represent the interests of 9,000 IT companies.

ACT filed its 45-page brief to U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson,
the judge in charge of the antitrust case, the Washington-based organization said in a
release issued Monday. Microsoft designated ACT as its "friend of the court" when last
year Jackson asked for all sides in the case to choose an amicus. Members of ACT
include Intel and Symantec.

Other friend-of-the-court briefs are due to be issued Tuesday on behalf of the U.S.
Department of Justice and the 19 states that filed the lawsuit against Microsoft, as
well as an amicus brief on behalf of Judge Jackson. Jackson has already designated
Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig as his friend of the court; the identities of the
other amici have yet to be revealed.

Last week the U.S. government issued its rebuttal to Microsoft's proposed
conclusions of law filed earlier this month in the ongoing antitrust case. Tuesday will
be the software maker's turn to rebut the government's rebuttal.

In November of last year Judge Jackson issued his findings of fact in the case,
ruling that Microsoft is a monopoly -- a key issue in the Justice Department's case
against the software giant. The antitrust trial filed against Microsoft by the Justice
Department and 19 states kicked off in October of last year and centers around
allegations that the company misused its monopoly in the desktop operating systems
market to crush competition from vendors of rivals to Microsoft's Internet Explorer
Internet browser software.

In Monday's brief, somewhat surprisingly, ACT agreed with Jackson that Microsoft is
a monopoly. The organization said in the filing that the software maker "holds a
lawfully acquired monopoly" protected by "an applications barrier to entry."

However, ACT said Microsoft's behavior did not violate antitrust laws as the U.S.
government claims and disputed the Justice Department's allegations that Microsoft
forced rival browser maker Netscape (now owned by America Online) out of the market.

"As an asset of by far the largest Internet access provider, AOL, [Netscape]
Navigator remains a threat to dominate the browser market," ACT said in the brief.

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