Feeds

Microsoft lawyer hectored by appellate judges

So what did happen to Netscape, then?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

MS on Trial "I don't see how you can get a reversal," Judge David Tatel flatly told Microsoft lawyer Richard Urowsky, early in Monday's round of oral arguments before the federal appeals bench. It was not an auspicious start.

Repeatedly, Urowsky was forced to concede under sharp questioning from the bench that many of the findings of fact by District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson were correct and uncontestable.

Urowsky patiently, and very courteously, drummed away with his core message, that while Jackson's facts are generally quite straight, his conclusions of law are not. Again and again Urowsky gently insisted that these facts simply don't indicate illegal business practices.

"We have contested a relatively small number of [Jackson's] factual determinations as clearly erroneous; however, it is our position that even if the [appellate] court were to accept all of the findings of the District Court, the decision would have to be reversed in all respects as a matter of law," Urowsky boasted.

Most incredibly, he insisted that Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows did no harm to Netscape. It was just "very competitive competition," Urowsky explained in response to Judge Douglas Ginsburg's suggestion that the company prosecuted a "saturation bombing" campaign against Netscape.

"Nothing Microsoft did foreclosed Netscape from any portion of the marketplace," Urowsky said.

He also claimed that Microsoft's licensing arrangement with OEMs is not illegal, as Judge Jackson held, but in fact a matter of copyright protection.

The licenses require that all the company's icons be displayed on the desktop when it's first booted by the end user. "What is at issue in this dispute is only the very first time the computer is booted up," Urowsky insisted, and added that the company was "exercising its rights under federal copyright laws" to protect its OS from tinkering by OEMs.

The only real ally Microsoft appears to have at this point is Chief Judge Harry Edwards, who predicted that if the DoJ prevails, it will break up Microsoft only to enable another monopolist to take its place.

"You're going to replace one monopoly with another if you're right," Edwards told government lawyers in response to assertions that the company needs to be broken up.

The oral arguments phase is just beginning, as two days' worth of haggling before the bench is scheduled. If during the next two days the momentum should shift towards the government then we can expect MS to prepare its appeal for the US Supreme Court and whinge piteously in public.

If it shifts towards Microsoft, then we may see the Bush Administration's DoJ seeking a settlement with the software behemoth in lieu of a Supreme Court trial. Of course this sort of speculation assumes that the Supremes will in fact condescend to hear the case, which one really can't predict. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.