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Microsoft Lawsuit

by Majik on August 11th, 2001 More than 100 federal lawmakers today urged the litigants in the Microsoft antitrust case to settle their long-running dispute.

In a letter sent to top representatives from Microsoft, the Justice Department and the state attorneys general involved in the case, 122 members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the parties to reach a "just and speedy conclusion" to the court battle over Microsoft's business practices.

"Antitrust enforcement should be about protecting the American consumer, not deciding winners and losers among wealthy competitors. Now is the time for all parties to the litigation to address the remaining issues and provide some finality that protects consumers and allows the American high-tech industry to innovate and prosper," the lawmakers wrote.

An aide to Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. - who worked with Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., to draft the letter and collect the 122 signatures - said that Congress is keeping a close eye on the case.

"They're not choosing sides but they do think that (the parties) need to reach a quick settlement," Inslee staffer Sara O'Connell said today.

Inslee, who represents the company's home base in Redmond, Wash., has been one of Microsoft's most vocal congressional supporters.

Today's letter comes two days after Microsoft asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that upheld a lower court conviction against the software giant on antitrust charges.

In its June 28 decision, the appeals panel refused to sanction a decision to break Microsoft into two companies. The court did rule, however, that Microsoft violated antitrust laws by negotiating licensing agreements that served to perpetuate its monopoly in the operating systems market. The court ordered that the case be sent back to the district court level for rehearing by a new judge, who would mete out a new penalty for Microsoft.

By rejecting some of the most serious charges against Microsoft, while keeping intact much of the lower court conviction, the appeals court provided fertile ground for a settlement, many observers said following the decision.

Still, while Microsoft, the Justice Department and the state attorneys general have all said they would be willing to consider a deal, no agreement has been forthcoming.

Microsoft spokesman Rick Miller today restated the company's stance that it is willing to negotiate.

"We appreciate the members sentiments with regard to settlement and as we've said all along, we'll work with the government to resolve the remaining issues in the case," Miller said.

Justice Department officials were not available for comment on this story.

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