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Tuesday, 7 December, 1999, 17:43 GMT
Microsoft shares drop on anti-trust move
The government's lawyers believe they have Microsoft on the spot


Microsoft's share price has gone on the slide after US Government officials told the mediator in the long-running anti-trust case that the software giant had violated at least four different sections of US anti-trust laws.

At the close, the stock traded at $93 - down almost $2.50.

The Department of Justice and 19 US states are accusing Microsoft of abusing its market power.

After a long, drawn-out trial, judge Thomas Penfield Jackson filed his 'findings of fact' in November. He strongly criticised the Seattle-based company, but appointed a mediator to try to achieve a settlement between Microsoft and the government.

The plaintiffs have now published their proposed "conclusions of law", arguing that any settlement or ruling should be guided by finding that Microsoft
  • illegally maintained its monopoly in the market for operating systems for personal computers;
  • illegally tied its web browser to its operating system;
  • entered into illegally exclusionary agreements with personal computer manufacturers, with internet access and on-line service providers, and with internet content providers; and
  • tried to monopolise the browser market.
In their submission, the government lawyers called Microsoft's actions "nakedly anti-competitive", accusing the company of depriving consumers of important innovations.

Microsoft attorney Bill Neukom has to make the best of Judge Jackson's tough findings
Microsoft is arguing that it is in fact fighting for the "freedom to innovate" - the title the company has given to its web site dedicated to the trial.

A Microsoft spokesman said: "We disagree with the government's arguments, and we look forward to presenting our position to the court as this process continues."

The software company is expected to file its conclusions in the middle of January next year.

The mediator in charge of settling the case is Judge Richard Posner. Last week he met both sides, and on Monday began detailed talks with the government's lawyers.

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See also:
07 Dec 99 |  Business
US v Microsoft: The mediator

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