States Want Extension Of Antitrust Oversight For Microsoft


In a filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this week the six state attorneys general asked Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who ruled in the original consent decree in the case in 2002, to continue the judgment against Microsoft until 2012. Most sections of the judgment are due to expire next month.

The states involved in the new filing are California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The District of Columbia also joined the filing.

A Microsoft spokesman said in a statement that the move doesn't come as a surprise in that it formalizes arguments the states made in a court "status" hearing in September. "As we believe, and the Department of Justice has stated, the consent decree has served its purpose, ending practices the courts found were anticompetitive, and providing additional legal remedies as well," the spokesman said.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement last month that five years of court oversight is "inadequate to monitor and fight Microsoft's monopolistic stranglehold on the market." The judgment "must be extended another five years to address computer operating systems that are just now emerging and counter Microsoft's anticompetitive practices," he said, specifically charging that Windows Vista "already has threatened to undermine competing desktop search options."

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In August California Attorney General Edmund Brown released a report questioning the effectiveness of the original judgment. In an accompanying statement Brown said, "The decree has not lived up to its goal of increasing market competition."

Judge Kollar-Kotelly is scheduled to preside over a status hearing in the case on Nov. 6.