US Antitrust Chief Defends Microsoft Settlement

At a speech before antitrust lawyers Friday, US Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust chief Charles James defended his agency's settlement with Microsoft, stating that the agreement was fair and consistent with the narrow focus of the company's illegal activities.

"This is no ordinary case," he reminded the audience, noting the perception that the US government was simply attacking the world's richest man (Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft), regardless of the legality of the charges against his company. James also brushed aside criticism of the DOJ's agreement, which leaves Microsoft free to continue doing business without addressing its past behavior. "This was not an assault on the existence of \[Microsoft's monopoly," he said. "There was no mandate to range broadly across the information industry. It was a middleware case, a middleware case, middleware case."

James did note that its success in court could be attributed largely to Microsoft's competitors. "\[Never before in such cases\] have companies been quite so aggressive in asking that we serve their interests," he said."\[Microsoft's competition\] wanted broad-scale emasculation of the company. But our job is not to level the playing field mid-game. It's to enforce the law."

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