A attempt has been made by 24 US State attorneys general, as well as New York's attorney general, to support the nine dissident states and the state of Columbia in continuing their antitrust litigation against Microsoft.

Hearings begin today to determine whether sanctions should be imposed against the software maker that go beyond what the company has agreed to in a proposed settlement with the Department of Justice (DoJ) and nine other states.

Microsoft filed a motion with the court on February 26 asking it to dismiss the additional demands that the nine suing states and the District of Columbia are pursuing. It argued that once the federal government had settled its case, the states should not be able to press the case any further.

Injunctive relief Nine suing states – California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia – on Friday rebutted Microsoft's motion for dismissal in a 59-page document filed with the court. The states cited their right to continue litigation under the Clayton Act of 1914, which says that a state can sue for injunctive relief if it has been threatened by a violation of antitrust law.

A second filing was made Friday by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer – an application for "friend-of-the-court" status, which would allow it to make comments about the lawsuit on the court record.

"Because Microsoft's motion presents a direct challenge to the federal antitrust enforcement authority that New York and other states exercise on behalf of consumers, New York has a significant interest in the outcome of the motion," Spitzer said in the filing.

A third filing by 24 states asked for similar friend-of-the-court status. Included in that list of states were six that have already agreed to settle the antitrust case as part of the agreement Microsoft inked with the Department of Justice.

A District Court Judge ruled in April 2000 that Microsoft violated antitrust law in establishing a monopoly over the market for desktop operating systems.