Extension request rejected

www.infoworld.com |  Business

MICROSOFT'S REQUEST THAT it be allowed more time to submit a plan if a U.S. court orders a company breakup was rejected Monday by the government in its latest filing in the remedies phase of the historic antitrust case against the software maker.

Microsoft suggested in its most recent court document, filed last week, that it have a full year to file its plan for splitting the company in two and that it have to file only memos describing business agreements between the two halves. The Department of Justice and 17 state attorneys general said Monday that such a waiting period is "unwarranted."

Monday's document is a response to Microsoft's revised proposal regarding remedies in the case. Microsoft has until Wednesday to respond to the government filing, which further notes that many of Microsoft's comments in its last court brief go beyond addressing remedies proposals and instead are arguments that the company already has raised and that already have been countered by the plaintiffs.

Overall, though, there are no surprises in the government brief, which delves into semantics, with the plaintiffs agreeing with a Microsoft request to call the proposed breakup of the company a "divestiture" rather than a reorganization," for instance.

The Department of Justice and 17 of 19 state attorneys general who filed suit against Microsoft have recommended that U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson order the company be split in two, with one entity focused on operating systems and another on other software applications. Microsoft vehemently opposes that plan, though it has said it will agree to behavioral remedies. Two state attorneys general have recommended only behavioral remedies, which are aimed at stopping Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior.

Jackson has ruled that Microsoft is a monopoly and illegally used its monopoly power in the operating systems market in an attempt to squelch competition and to make inroads into other markets, notably Internet browser software.

He is expected to issue his final ruling, which will set forth the remedies he wants imposed on Microsoft, perhaps as soon as this week. Jackson is widely viewed as already having made his decision

"He seems to me like a man who is desperately trying to catch a train," Bill Kovacic, a law professor at George Washington University, said of Jackson and the speed with which he is pushing along the remedy phase.

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