MS/DOJ: Massachusetts appeals remedy ruling

The US state of Massachusetts has filed an appeal of US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's recent Microsoft antitrust settlement ruling, a case it expects to pursue alone as the other non-settling states accept Kollar-Kotelly's remedy and focus on enforcement, state Attorney General Tom Reilly said during a press conference.

"After a complete remedies trial, we were disappointed when the district court did little more than accept Microsoft's loophole-filled deal," Reilly said. "Microsoft has been found to have repeatedly violated the antitrust laws of this state and this country. We believe a remedy must send a message that breaking the law will not pay. Otherwise, it sends a dangerous message about what is acceptable behaviour."

West Virginia may yet join Massachusetts in appealing the remedy, according to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. He issued a statement on Friday confirming that seven states, including his, and the District of Columbia will not appeal the decision. West Virginia will make its decision by Monday, he said.

Monday is the deadline for the states to appeal.

Jim Desler, a Microsoft spokesman, said Massachusetts' actions would not affect the company's plans moving forward.

"Regardless of today's decisions by the states our focus remains on complying fully with the court's judgement," Desler said. "I would not characterise (Microsoft) as being surprised or disappointed."

California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah, West Virginia and the District of Columbia were the parties that declined to sign off on the Federal Government's initial proposed settlement with Microsoft. By continuing to pursue the case, the states won important concessions that strengthened enforcement provisions, Iowa's Miller said on Friday.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer also weighed in last Friday, saying that the antitrust case has spotlighted Microsoft's illegal behaviour.

"While not completely satisfying, the court decree closed enforcement loopholes, keeps compliance with the remedies squarely before the court and allows us to now turn attention to making sure that Microsoft competes fairly in the marketplace," he said in a prepared statement.

Because Microsoft was judged guilty of antitrust violations, the states are entitled to recoup their expenses for the case, which total US$25 million in attorney fees and litigation costs, Miller said. Microsoft will also pay the states an additional $3.6 million to be used for funding enforcement efforts, he said.

Massachusetts' Reilly said he is not worried about continuing the case without the participation of the other states.

"We are prepared to go it alone," he said. "We always expected one way or another this would be resolved at the appellate level, and that's where it's going."

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