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The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has announced a schedule roughly halfway between the lengthy one favoured by Microsoft and the quick and dirty operation which the US Department of Justice (DoJ) preferred. The whole can of worms is going to be in the judges' hands in slightly more than four months' time.

Microsoft's first brief must be filed by 27 November; the DoJ reply is due by 12 January; and the company's rebuttal is due by 29 January.

The court, noting that it doesn't "assume that length necessarily equates with quality," set a length-limit on party filings, with Microsoft getting 150 pages for its initial brief; the DoJ getting 125 pages for rebuttal; a joint brief by states which also sued the company getting 25 pages; and the company's final rebuttal getting 75 pages.

The court will accept briefs of amici curiae, but has asked that only one be filed by each side, perhaps compiled from several sources. The amicus briefs will be due by 12 January, and may not exceed 25 pages.

To discourage parties from cramming 500 words on each page with some microscopic font, "all briefs must be filed using proportionally-spaced type of at least 12-point, with margins of at least one inch on all sides," the court says.

Oral arguments are scheduled for 26 and 27 February. We can hardly wait. ®

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