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Tuesday, 29 August, 2000, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Microsoft appeal decision looms
US Supreme Court building
The Supreme Court could hear the case this year
The US Supreme Court is to announce on 2 October whether it will hear the appeal in the Microsoft anti-trust case, sources say.

Microsoft has urged the US Supreme Court to allows its appeal of its conviction for anti-competitive behaviour to be heard by a lower court of appeal first.

The Microsoft Trial
The software giant wants to voice its arguments in the anti-trust case in a Federal Appeals Court, which has ruled in favour of the company in a similar case before.

If its wish is granted, the appeal process is likely to take considerably longer than the "fast-track" approach the US Justice Department had been hoping for.

"The benefits of comprehensive review by the court of appeals far outweigh whatever time, if any, might be saved by direct review in this court," an earlier Microsoft statement said.

"The need for soundness in the result outweighs the need for speed in reaching it," it added.


The need for soundness in the result outweighs the need for speed in reaching it

Microsoft
Previously the US Justice Department said that any delay in hearing Microsoft's anti-trust appeal could "irreparably harm competition".

Government lawyers want the US Supreme Court to consider the appeal direct, rather than dealing with it once lower appeals courts have considered it.

One year delay

In a 30-page legal brief issued last month, accompanied by a 312-page appendix, the company argued that "the importance of these cases will not lie in how quickly they are resolved but in their long-term effects on consumers and this nation's economy".


A delay could irreparably harm competition in a vital and rapidly evolving sector of the national economy

Justice Dept
District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said in June that Microsoft should be split in two as its sentence for abusing its dominant position in the personal computer operating system market.

Justice Department lawyers do not want a lengthy appeals process to postpone indefinitely the splitting in two of the software superpower.

It said in its filing last week that the case had "immense importance to our national economy", and that this should be good reason for the lower court hearings to be skipped for a third time since 1974.

It also said that a delay "could irreparably harm competition in a vital and rapidly evolving sector of the national economy".

The government estimated that a final resolution of the case would be reached at least one year earlier if the high court exercised its discretion to take the case now.

The Justice Department pointed out that from 1903 until 1974, all anti-trust appeals went directly from the trial court to the Supreme Court.

"The district court has distilled the record into clear and well-organised findings of fact that provide a detailed roadmap of its reasoning," its filing said.

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See also:

29 Jun 00 | Business
Oracle defends Microsoft spying
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The Trial: Key Moments
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Microsoft scores points in court
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