Judge Rejects Request to Throw Out Microsoft Settlement

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has rejected an antitrust watchdog group's request to throw out the proposed Microsoft and Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust settlement. (Microsoft and the DOJ will appear in court in early March, at which time the judge will examine the proposed settlement.) The American Antitrust Institute (which former US Senator John Tunney, after whom a major antitrust act is named, supports) asked Kollar-Kotelly to reject the deal because Microsoft and the DOJ didn't reveal all the contacts between the two groups during the settlement process, as the law requires. Kollar-Kotelly brushed aside the complaint.

"Working in seeming contravention to the intent of the Tunney Act, \[the institute's\] collateral attack is self-serving and does not advance the public interest," the judge wrote in a ruling issued yesterday.  However, Kollar-Kotelly has ruled that Microsoft and the DOJ must explain how they conformed to the Tunney Act requirements, which mandate that the settling parties fully disclose their lobbying activities. Microsoft has submitted only a short, one-page list of contacts to fulfill this obligation, and several entities, including the New York Times and the American Antitrust Institute, say the list isn't enough. Microsoft has spent millions of dollars lobbying congressional members and their aides, the groups say, and none of those efforts is recorded in Microsoft's Tunney Act filing.

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