Trade Groups Appeal Microsoft Settlement

Microsoft critics push for judge's review of ruling.
Posted December 23, 2002

Mark Berniker

Two trade groups representing Microsoft's competitors, which strongly oppose the government's recent settlement with Microsoft , are appealing a district court's recent ruling.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) have filed an appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Back on November 1st, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, presiding over the case, approved a settlement struck between Microsoft and the Bush administration's Justice Department.

The trade associations are not alone in pushing for an appeal of the settlement, Massachusetts and West Virginia also would like to see tougher sanctions against Microsoft. Seven other states dropped their concerns of the Microsoft settlement on November 28th. Litigation associated with the Microsoft anti-trust trial has now been going on for more than four years.

As part of the settlement approved by Judge Kollar-Kotelly, Microsoft agreed to give computer hardware manufacturers more freedom to feature rival software programs on their machines by permitting them to hide some Microsoft icons on the Windows desktop.

The two trade associations are both longtime critics of Microsoft, and there are questions whether the latest appeal, coupled with the legal moves by nine states attorney general, will reverse Judge Kollar-Kotelly's earlier rulings.

CCIA and SIIA argue that the Microsoft settlement is not in the "public interest" and think the appeals court should review its previous decisions.

"Both CCIA and SIIA represent broad segments of the high technology industry with substantial interests in the settlement, including Independent Software Vendors, Independent Hardware Vendors, and Internet Access Providers. CCIA and SIIA both submitted extensive comments to the government during the Tunney Act review arguing that the terms of the settlement failed to remedy even the specific acts found to have been anticompetitive by the appeals court," said a statement released by the two trade associations.

As part of its legal appeal, the trade groups, which represent a number of Microsoft's main competitors, including Sun Microsystems , Oracle and AOL Time Warner , point to the importance of public comments in the case, as part of the Tunney Act proceedings.

The Tunney Act is a federal statute the spells out the steps that are to be taken in federal antitrust settlement to make sure any deal cut is not impacted by outside influence, and is in the public's best interest.

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