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bid for delay in antitrust case
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WASHINGTON, Aug 17 (AFP) - An appeals court Friday rejected
Microsoft's request to delay sending the government's
antitrust case back to a lower court to reconsider penalties
for acting as an illegal monopoly.
The US Court of Appeals ruled ordered the case sent to the
lower court in seven days, raising the possibility that a new
judge to be named could consider requests to block the release
of the new Windows XP operating system.
Microsoft had asked the appellate court to halt any action
in the US District Court while it appeals to the US Supreme
Court. Such a move would have postponed the imposition of any
penalty in the case, possibly for months.
But the Court of Appeals said in a one-page order that
Microsoft "has failed to demonstrate any substantial harm that
would result" from sending the case back to the lower court.
The ruling also said "it appears that Microsoft has
misconstrued our opinion" on what would have been required to
completely throw out last year's ruling by Judge Thomas
"We are pleased with the (appeals) court's decision and we
look forward to proceedings in the District Court," said
Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, speaking for the 18
states in the case, also applauded the order, saying, "It is
important to keep the case moving forward as quickly as
possible in such a fast-moving industry."
The appeals court on June 28 upheld a finding Microsoft
acted as an illegal monopoly, but said the breakup of the
company ordered by Jackson was not justified by the evidence.
The appeals judges sent the case to another district court
judge for review, ruling Jackson violated judicial ethics in
discussing the case with journalists.
Microsoft, in its filing August 7 with the Supreme Court,
said the appellate judges should have disqualified Jackson for
ethics violations and tossed out his entire findings of fact
and conclusions of law.
Responding to Friday's decision, Microsoft spokesman Jim
Desler said: "While we believe the process was best served
through a stay, we are prepared to move ahead with getting the
remaining issues in this case resolved while we await word on
Supreme Court review."
He added: "We will move forward with the case that has been
significantly narrowed with many of the original district
judge's findings against the company rejected."
Friday's ruling clouds the outlook for the planned October
25 release of the Windows XP operating system, which has been
criticized by some as a continuation of Microsoft's efforts to
use its dominance in PC operating system software to squeeze
out competitors in other areas.
"It's definitely a setback for Microsoft," said Nicholas
Economides , an antitrust expert at New York
Economides said the latest decision "sets into
motion the nomination of new judge who will decide on a
schedule, set up dates for hearing on remedies," possibly
within a few weeks.
Observers say the US and state governments that brought the
antitrust case may seek to block the release of Windows XP.
Microsoft shares slid 4.24 percent, or 2.74 dollars Friday,
to close at 61.88.