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Barksdale holds ground in three hour cross-examination

Microsoft attorney John Warden has so far failed to dent the Netscape CEO's armour -- but he's only on page 13 of 127

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Jim Barksdale, CEO of Netscape, spent three hours yesterday being cross-examined by John Warden for Microsoft. Barksdale's written testimony was formally added to the court record, and despite the length of the session, Warden only reached page 13 of the 127-page deposition. Barksdale was calm throughout and resolutely failed to give way on any point. He will return today -- and possibly for further days if the cross-examination is as slow as yesterday. Projecting forward, this could make the trial last months rather than the anticipated six to eight weeks. It suggests at the moment that Microsoft's strategy may be to drag the trial out for as long as possible, so that the media will become bored with it. Barksdale said in his testimony that "Microsoft's new business plans also include plans for how to eliminate Netscape as a competitor because of the threat the browser posed to the Windows monopoly". In his cross-examination, Barksdale noted that the press frequently reported Gates saying that he "was going to take my company out of business". Warden has not yet reached the part of Barksdale's deposition dealing with the critical June 1995 meeting, but when Barksdale confirmed the widely-reported market share carving proposal by Microsoft, Warden said he would return to that in due course. Barksdale also said that in 1996, Netscape licensed between five and ten million copies of Navigator, but these had dwindled to fewer than a million in 1997, as a result of Microsoft's actions. One of the key remarks by Microsoft, that it would "cut off Netscape's air supply", was attributed by Barksdale to Paul Maritz, a Microsoft VP, within the hearing of a responsible reporter. Unfortunately, this remark is likely to be ruled inadmissible by Judge Jackson, who will have to treat it as hearsay. Asked if pressing the government's action was "a key element in your strategy", Barksdale said he always regarded the DoJ action as a sideline because Netscape had more important things to do. He did reveal that he had advocated that the DoJ file an antitrust action last year, instead of the contempt action that failed. Netscape did not file a private antitrust action as this would have been too expensive, Barksdale said. Warden was unable to get Barksdale to agree that Navigator was a threat to Windows, probably because it wasn't, although Warden would have liked such an admission it seemed. It was a bit tricky for Warden to accuse Netscape of behaving like Microsoft when Netscape had a legal monopoly in browsers, as if Warden were too critical, Microsoft would be accusing itself of similar tactics. Barksdale was asked if he had any evidence that Microsoft wanted to eliminate Netscape as a competitor. After a hesitation on Barksdale's part, the Netscape CEO was helped out by Judge Jackson, who paraphrased the question: "What he wants to know is, is he going to get sandbagged with anything later on?" Barksdale's reply was revealing. "Maybe," he said. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories

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