Microsoft and the nine states pursuing litigation against it will get their final say in the remedy portion of the antitrust case when the judge hears closing arguments today.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly will listen to each side argue for their proposed remedies. Last year, the Appeals Court maintained a judgement that Microsoft violated antitrust law by attempting to maintain its monopoly in the PC operating system market through anticompetitive behaviour.
Kollar-Kotelly is likely to choose remedies from each side’s proposals in making her final decision, said Bob Schneider, an antitrust specialist and attorney with law firm Chapman & Cutler.
“The way I think she’ll go is to grant some of what the states want, and then go back and make some changes to Microsoft’s proposed remedies,” Schneider said.
Resistance Throughout the remedy hearing, Microsoft’s lawyers have tried to show that the states’ proposed remedies are far too broad, exceeding the scope of liabilities the courts outlined last year, and causing havoc for Microsoft and the PC industry at large.
The states want to force Microsoft to sell an “unbound” version of Windows, free of such applications as a Web browser and media-player. This means that PC makers could replace Microsoft’s programs with those from competitors. Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates told the court that the company would be forced to pull Windows from the market if that remedy was accepted.
Removing such middleware from Windows would cripple other aspects of the operating system, such as the help program, Gates told the court. Because the proposed remedy states that the unbound version of Windows must be a functional equivalent to the full operating system, minus the removed middleware, Gates said there is no way Microsoft could satisfy the provision and so the company would be forced to stop selling Windows to avoid violating the remedy.
Appeals Once Kollar-Kotelly decides which remedies should be imposed, which is expected to take a couple of months, either Microsoft or the litigating states could appeal her decision. The case would then return to the US Court of Appeals.
Last week, Microsoft and the states filed their recommendations for resolving the case. Microsoft said that the states’ case contained a number of flaws, and did not show cause for remedies that go beyond its settlement with the DOJ. The states described their case as a “powerful foundation” for relief that would correct the harm that Microsoft has inflicted.
Also last week, Kollar-Kotelly denied Microsoft’s motion to dismiss the states’ case. Microsoft claimed that the states had no right to pursue remedies, since the company has already arrived at an agreement with the DOJ. The judge said in her ruling that the states could pursue separate remedies despite the DOJ’s settlement.