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‘Da cops set us up’ – Microsoft shock claim

The Netscape meet was all an elaborate sting to trigger a DoJ investigation, says attorney

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Microsoft was the victim of a 'sting' when it met Netscape executives to discuss co-operation, the company's attorney suggested yesterday. Moving on from claiming that Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale had made it all up, John Warner suggested the meeting was a setup designed to gain evidence for a DoJ investigation. Netscape and Barksdale claim that at the June 1995 meeting Microsoft suggested an illegal carve-up of the browser market. The sudden twist in Microsoft's line derives from the company's finally obtaining a copy of a letter from Netscape's then lawyer to the Department of Justice. The letter, from long-term Microsoft antagonist Gary Reback, was dated two days after the meeting, and Microsoft says it got hold of it over the weekend. Warden claimed the failure to turn over the letter earlier was a "flagrant abuse," and directly accused Netscape of setting up the meeting "for the purpose of creating something that could be described as a record to be given to the Justice Department to spur them on to take action against Microsoft". Fans of cop shows may not however be impressed by the 'we were set up' tack. When they go in there with a wire, and get the evidence, the perp usually goes down - so is Microsoft going to try to have it all kicked out on grounds of entrapment? The involvement of Reback, who has been publicly going for Microsoft for a long time now, may not be entirely helpful, but the letter isn't entirely helpful to Microsoft. If it was a 'wire,' it succeeded famously. Reback's letter says Microsoft would withhold technical information to Netscape unless it gott an equity stake in the company "a seat on Netscape's board of directors and [is able to control] Netscape's ability to compete against Microsoft." ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories

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