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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 18:02 GMT
Microsoft 'should face swift justice'
Artist's impression of judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly
The remedy hearings are scheduled to begin in March
Nine US states that have refused to sign a peace deal with Microsoft over antitrust claims have urged that the software giant should face swift justice.

Microsoft, which has agreed a settlement to its long-running antitrust with some states and the US Government, had asked for extra time to prepare its defence against its remaining opponents.

But the states holding out for a more drastic settlement said on Monday that Microsoft had already had plenty of time to consider its case.

"Delay only further damages consumers who deserve effective, fair remedies for the violations of law found by two courts," Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal told District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

"Microsoft has abundant resources and time to answer for its lawbreaking."

Loophole worries

Under the current timetable, Ms Kollar-Kotelly plans to start remedy hearings on 11 March, to decide how Microsoft should be punished for its violation of competition law.

Hearings will also begin into whether the settlement proposed by the US Government, which includes some easing of constraints on rival firms wanting their products to work with Microsoft products, meets public interest concerns.

The nine hawk states claim that the settlement agreed between Microsoft and the government contains too many loopholes. Among other concessions, they want the firm to sell a cheap version of its Windows operating system.

"That Microsoft stands to benefit from delay is obvious," said a court filing from the nine states - California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts. Minnesota, Utah, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

"It is no surprise that Microsoft would like to continue to delay the proceeding that most threatens to deprive it of the ability to engage in the practices condemned as unlawful by the Court of Appeals."

Long-running case

The statement is the latest in a long-running case against Microsoft which has convicted the software giant of illegally maintaining a monopoly in personal computing operating systems.

Microsoft said last week the delay was needed to prepare for a case which was effectively new.

The schedule "should be amended in view of the non-settling states' dramatic expansion of the scope of the litigation beyond what the court reasonably could have anticipated three months ago", the firm said.

See also:

07 Dec 01 | Business
States seek pared-down Windows
04 Dec 01 | Business
Microsoft begs Europe to back off
07 Nov 01 | Business
Q&A: What next for Microsoft?
06 Nov 01 | Business
Microsoft's future in judge's hands
05 Nov 01 | Business
New threat to Microsoft deal
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