Group Sues Over Microsoft Settlement Plans

An antitrust research group said this week that Microsoft's proposed settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and nine US states violates a law that stipulates that the parties disclose all their contacts. The group--the American Antitrust Institute (AAI)--is suing both Microsoft and the DOJ, and requesting that the judge who is overseeing the case delay her decision about the settlement until both parties have disclosed all contacts between them. The AAI, which apparently believes that clandestine meetings between Microsoft and the DOJ resulted in the settlement, will detail the suit in a scheduled press conference later today. An "independent nonprofit organization aimed at promoting competition through education, research, and advocacy," the AAI supports the more damaging remedies sought by the nine US states that didn't sign on to the DOJ settlement.

"The AAI believes both Microsoft and the DOJ have deliberately avoided the disclosure requirements of the Tunney Act process or offered incomplete or misleading information," the group said in a statement issued yesterday. Microsoft says that it has complied with the disclosure requirements--part of the Tunney Act, which "sets forth procedures that must be followed whenever the United States proposes to settle a civil antitrust suit through entry of a consent decree." As part of another requirement of the Tunney Act, the DOJ must accept public comments about the settlement for 2 months, then pass them along to Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly; the time period for public comments ends on January 28.

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