As expected, the U.S. government and Microsoft Corp. Tuesday filed vastly different and opposing briefs to the judge presiding over the company's antitrust trial.
Both sides filed proposed findings of fact in the case, with the government charging that Microsoft engaged in a "broad" range of illegal anticompetitive acts to protect its operating system monopoly, and Microsoft asserting that the government has failed to show any real evidence of consumer harm over the 76 days of trial testimony.
"Microsoft has engaged in a broad pattern of unlawful conduct with the purpose and effect of thwarting emerging threats to its powerful and well-entrenched operating system monopoly," the government's document said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft said that not only has the government failed to show evidence of consumer harm, but government attorneys also failed to prove its monopoly claim against Microsoft. In fact, the Redmond, Wash.-based company argued that Microsoft could not be a monopoly because, despite its alleged dominance, it is still constrained from charging monopoly or profit-maximizing prices for its operating system.
The constraint on such pricing is competition, a Microsoft attorney said. Microsoft faces stiff competition from several fronts, the company maintained.
In fact, in its filing, Microsoft argued that the company keeps prices low, integrates new features into its products and is continuing to innovate.
Yet, that integration lies at the heart of the government's case. The government pointed out in its filing that the primary reason Microsoft integrated its browser into Windows was to counteract the threat Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator posed to the Windows platform.
Microsoft, the government laid out in its findings, behaved in much the same way to threats posed by IBM Corp.'s OS/2, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java, Apple Computer Inc.'s QuickTime and Intel Corp.'s Internet and multimedia software.
Microsoft, the government document said, engaged in "illegal maintenance of its monopoly" that "deprived consumers" of choice, lower prices for products and more innovative technology.
Microsoft, which argued that the government had taken its case to the public during the trial, maintains that those "public relations points" do not affect the outcome of the case.
"While the government may have scored public relations points against the company in the initial phase of the trial using courtroom theatrics and bits of evidence out of context, we are entering a new phase of the case in [which] the government must confront [that] certain critically important facts are largely or entirely undisputed," Microsoft said.
Microsoft said much of its witnesses' written direct testimony has gone into the record unchallenged.
The company argued that the government's case, based on a tying claim--that Microsoft illegally tied its browser to its operating system--is flawed. An appeal court ruling from last year helps to bolster that claim. In a June 1998 ruling, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled that Microsoft could integrate its Internet Explorer browser with Windows as long as there was a benefit to consumers.
Microsoft also attacked the testimony of Professor Edward Felten, a Princeton University computer science professor and government expert witness, saying that Felten failed to prove that Internet Explorer and Windows were separate products.
The government's filing plays heavily on the browser issue, and Microsoft's filing relies on a good deal on evidence uncovered from the discovery process relating to America Online Inc.'s acquisition of Netscape and its alliance with Sun.
In addition, Microsoft said the government failed to prove that Netscape was foreclosed from the market.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has given the two sides another month to review each other's proposed findings of fact and then file their revised documents by Sept. 10. On Sept. 21, the judge is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case. He will then issue his own findings of fact in October.