Monday, July 07, 2003

Antitrust News: Mass. Investigating Microsoft Settlement

Ted Bridis of the AP reports that Massachusetts is investigating whether Microsoft retaliated against a computer maker for promoting a rival operating system in violation of the company's antitrust settlement with the DOJ administration and 18 other states.

Lawyers for the state told the judge in the antitrust case that they were investigating other complaints that Microsoft might have violated the settlement. Microsoft said it was complying fully with the settlement.

In a court filing made public Monday, Massachusetts said that none of the allegations had been resolved and it would "move forward on an enforcement path should its investigations identify provable violations."

Massachusetts is the only state that has not settled its antitrust claims against the software giant. Its lawyers did not specify which computer maker might have suffered retaliation for promoting Linux software. Companies promoting Linux in varying ways have included IBM, Dell Computer Corp. and Sony Corp.

Each of the allegations against Microsoft was based on a complaint or investigative tip, state lawyers wrote.

Microsoft denied it was violating the agreement.

"We are complying fully with all terms of the decree and are working with the appropriate authorities to ensure that this consent decree is implemented," spokesman Jim Desler said.

Massachusetts has argued previously that the government's antitrust settlement was profoundly flawed. It has asked a federal appeals court to instruct the trial judge to impose tougher sanctions than those included in the settlement the judge approved.

The state also complained that its investigation of Microsoft has been hampered by the Justice Department (news - web sites) and some other states enforcing agreements that preclude any of the states from cooperating with Massachusetts.

"The exclusion of Massachusetts has been effective and complete," the state said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Massachusetts also told U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that it will establish a Web site to solicit complaints about Microsoft's behavior, set up a telephone hot line for complaints, contact technology industry groups and review news coverage of Microsoft to look for leads.
Indeed. Too bad there is not a website that solicits complaints from the victims of antitrust enforcers.

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