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David Blumenthal: "A predator that has misused monopoly power"
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banner Monday, 14 February, 2000, 12:32 GMT
Judge: It's a monopoly (Nov 99)

A US federal judge has ruled that Microsoft wields monopoly power in personal computer operating systems - a serious setback for the US software giant in its anti-trust case.

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson made the decision in a partial ruling in the suit against the US software giant.

The judge's "findings of fact" - released on the internet at 2330 GMT - are the first stage of his ruling in a complex legal battle, which could lead to serious sanctions against Microsoft.

However, in an unusual legal move, the judge is not due to make a final determination of who has won the case for several months.

The US Justice Department and 19 US states charged Microsoft, the world's biggest software company, with abusing its monopoly power in order to sell more copies of its own internet browser and damage the business prospects of the rival Netscape Navigator browser.

But Microsoft argued that, although its Windows operating system runs on 90% of the world's personal computers, it did not act as a monopoly and instead benefited its customers by giving them additional features at no extra cost.

The two sides have one month from the finding of fact to issue their "conclusions of law" as to how it relates to US anti-trust law.

Only then, probably in the first three months of 2000, would the judge issue his "ruling of law", stating whether Microsoft was guilty of violating competitive practices.

It would also be at that stage that the judge would go on to consider remedies, such as restrictions on Microsoft's activities or even breaking up the company - which might come in a separate hearing next spring.

From the start of the trial to the beginning of February 2000, the company has gained nearly $300bn in value.

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See also:
05 Nov 99 |  Microsoft
Timeline: Microsoft legal wrangles
05 Nov 99 |  Microsoft
Microsoft vs US Justice Dept
19 Oct 99 |  The Company File
Computer craze boosts Microsoft
05 Nov 99 |  The Company File
Microsoft ruling imminent
29 Mar 99 |  Microsoft
Microsoft's monopoly: the charge sheet

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