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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 16:46 GMT
Microsoft plea for trial delay rejected
Microsoft chief Bill Gates
Microsoft chief Bill Gates
The long-running anti-trust trial against Microsoft is set to resume in March, after the judge rejected the firm's request for a four-month delay.

The trial continues because nine US states and the District of Columbia are not satisfied with the deal struck in November between Microsoft, the federal government, and nine of the other US states that originally sued the software giant.

Holding out against Microsoft
California
Connecticut
District of Columbia (Washington)
Florida
Iowa
Kansas
Massachusetts
Minnesota
West Virginia
Utah
There will now be two hearings running in parallel. One will look into how Microsoft should be punished for its behaviour - which is pursued by the nine states and Washington D.C.; the other will investigate the details of the settlement reached between the software maker and the federal government.

In early autumn of last year, appeal judges had upheld a lower court ruling that Microsoft used its dominance of the operating system market to restrict competition.

Crucially though, the judges threw out the "remedies" imposed on Microsoft, which called for a break-up of the company.

The settlement negotiated in November envisaged close monitoring of Microsoft's behaviour, and changes in its relationship with rivals and customers.

Microsoft's grievances

Microsoft lawyers had argued that some of the witnesses called by the states still pursuing the trial had not co-operated with Microsoft.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly acknowledged that the court had "put in place an intensive and expedited schedule", but argued that "certainly no one can claim that [Microsoft] lack resources".

Bob Lande, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, described the ruling as a major blow to Microsoft.

Experts said the course of either hearing was likely to influence the outcome of the other one.

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