News

Finding Not Favorable to Microsoft

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has released a finding of fact on the Microsoft case.

In what may be a significant blow to Microsoft, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has issued a finding of fact that calls Microsoft a monopoly whose actions have ultimately harmed the consumer.

The finding was made public on Friday afternoon, November 5, more than a year after the closely watched Department of Justice anti-trust case first went to court.

A finding of fact is not a rule of law, but usually indicates the direction of any rule of law that follows. The next step is a process that could take several months, in which each party works with the court to decide what legal rulings will apply.

Microsoft's stock dropped several points immediately in after-market trading.

In the case, the judge ruled on three key questions: Is Microsoft a monopoly, has it exhibited predatory practices, and have consumers been hurt. On each question, Jackson ruled yes. Significantly, the judge concluded that, "The ultimate result is that some innovations that would truly benefit consumers never occur for the sole reason that they do not coincide with Microsoft's self-interest." Legal experts say that a key legal question all along has been whether consumers were harmed.

Microsoft COO Bob Herbold, appearing on CNN, said that Microsoft is still reviewing the findings, but, "They don't reflect the phenomenal competition in this industry." Attorney General Janet Reno, in contrast, called the finding, "Very good news for U.S. consumers."

At a press conference following release of the finding, Bill Gates said, "We respectfully disagree with many of the court's findings… Microsoft competes vigorously and fairly." Microsoft is driven, he said, by "Innovation, integrity, serving customers, partnerships, and giving back to the community."

Bill Neukom, Senior VP, Law and Corporate Affairs for Microsoft said, "The filing of these findings is just one step in a legal process… We continue to be confident about our legal position."

For detailed commentary, links, and historical perspectives on the case:

Do you agree with Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's finding? Participate in our poll on the home page, and sound off in our discussion forums at http://www.mcpmag.com/2000forums.asp?afabsun4382ax9073=1&err=1.

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