The US Court of Appeals is to review the conduct of Judge Thomas Penfield, the judge in the Microsoft anti trust case.

The Court of Appeals yesterday revealed that 30 minutes of the oral presentations section of the trial will be reserved for "conduct of trial and extrajudicial statements" by Jackson.

Neither the US Department of Justice (DOJ) nor Microsoft requested the court reserve time for that topic, despite the software maker's claims in its appeal briefs that Jackson showed animus toward the company.

Joint filing Both protagonists had said they would rely on written briefs filed on Jackson's in- and out-of-court conduct, according to a joint filing from the two on February 2.

A Microsoft spokesman had little comment on the change ordered by the appeals court, saying only the company looked forward to presenting its arguments on all the issues. A DOJ spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment.

The court on February 26 and 27 will reserve a total of seven hours for oral arguments compared to the 4.5 hours initially requested. Jackson's conduct will be reviewed during the second day of arguments. The court will spend 75 minutes on monopoly maintenance and 45 minutes on whether Microsoft's bundling of its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system was anti-competitive.

Microsoft has vigorously defended itself against charges that it had acted in an anti-competitive manner, and that it tried to monopolize the market. The company has suggested that Jackson has expressed contempt and dislike of Microsoft and its top executives. The DOJ, in appeal briefs, has defended his actions, comments and ruling – which threatens to split the company in two. His ruling would create one company that focuses on the Windows operating system and another that focuses on applications.