Microsoft Antitrust: Appeals court will hear trade group case

A U.S. federal appeals court will hear arguments from two trade groups opposed to the antitrust settlement negotiated by the U.S. Department of Justice and Microsoft Corp.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIAA) late last year filed a motion to intervene in the settlement appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In January, District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denied the groups' motion to intervene in the Microsoft antitrust settlement, ruling that they failed to prove the settlement deal impairs their ability to protect their interests or that the settlement did not adequately represent them.

The groups, which are backed by some of Microsoft's top rivals in various markets, argue that the settlement is not stringent enough and does not serve the public's interest. They appealed Kollar-Kotelly's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Indicating that it views the matter as important, the appeals court said that it will hear arguments from the groups "en banc," meaning that all of the Court of Appeals judges will hear the matter rather than just a smaller panel of them hearing the case. The court ruling was released Thursday.

Final briefs in the appeals case are due in August, with oral arguments set to begin Nov. 4. The appeals court will also hear arguments from Massachusetts and West Virginia, which refused to sign off on the settlement deal, on the same day as the trade group arguments are heard, according to the CCIA.

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