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Microsoft trial: How it will proceed

What's going to happen, and what the DoJ needs to prove

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The general legal case is that Microsoft has contravened antitrust law, which in the rest of the world tends to be called competition law. The 'antitrust' is, in fact, inappropriate today because business practices involving trusts, which were used to get round ownership issues (hence antitrust) are usually not an issue. Monopolies are not illegal if they are acquired by offering better products or services, but it is illegal to use monopoly power to maintain market share or to use monopoly power as a lever into other markets. The DoJ has to establish a Microsoft pattern of behaviour that is illegal. If the DoJ wins a preliminary injunction, it says it will seek "additional permanent relief" to restore fair competition. Although an AT&T-style break-up of Microsoft has often been discussed, informed observers do not believe this to be a likely outcome. Although a jury can be used at an antitrust trial, it is unusual and one is not being used in the present case in Washington. However, there will be a jury when Microsoft meets Caldera in Salt Lake City next year for Caldera's private case against Microsoft for anticompetitive business practices against DR-DOS -- something that will not be welcomed at all by Microsoft, which wanted to move the case to Washington state, but failed to achieve this. Of the 12 witnesses for each side, only one -- Steven McGeady of Intel -- has refused to submit testimony in advance to be sworn into the record, so that only cross-examination would be necessary, to save time. There are 1,229 exhibits for the case so far -- most of them are emails. Judge Jackson has still not ruled on the DoJ emergency motion requesting that Microsoft be ordered to grant the DoJ experts access to Microsoft databases that have details of Microsoft sales of Internet Explorer and Windows. The court yesterday rose earlier than expected, but Microsoft must have been relieved to have more time to hone its opening position which will now be presented this morning. Jim Barksdale, chairman of Netscape, is then expected to be the first witness for the DoJ. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories

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