Microsoft accuses Netscape of involving the government

Microsoft attorney John Warden faced Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale for the fifth straight day Monday as the second week of Microsoft's antitrust trial began (court is not in session on Fridays). Using the timing of messages from Netscape to the U.S. government as evidence, Warden accused Barksdale of "setting up" Microsoft to take the fall in an undeserved antitrust case.

Warden claims that Netscape legal counsel Gary Reback asked Marc Andreessen to take notes at the now-infamous June 1995 meeting with Microsoft so that the company could get involved with an investigation against Microsoft. America Online had just complained about Microsoft to the DOJ and Reback had been contacted for any corroborating information. In fact, the meeting itself was arranged specifically so that Microsoft could be set up. Reback wrote the DOJ a day later to tell them about the meeting.

"Microsoft developers have advantages on the Microsoft platform that Netscape developers will not have, absent a special relationship with Microsoft," Reback wrote. "If Netscape does not 'sign up' to this special relationship, Microsoft will develop a special relationship with a Netscape competitor, thereby harming Netscape. Microsoft will also do what it can to competitively injure Netscape in such a scenario."

Barksdale claimed to know nothing about this.

"Isn't it a fact, Mr. Barksdale, that the June 21 meeting was held for the purpose of creating something that could be called a record that could be given to the Department of Justice to spur them on?" asked Warden.

"That's absurd," Barksdale answered.

Apparently, Microsoft is trying to present the idea that Netscape invented the story about browser collusion specifically to damage Microsoft and improve their chances competitively.

"These documents raise questions about Netscape's motivation," said Microsoft spokesperson Mike Murray. "They clearly indicate a timeline that can hardly be called a coincidence.

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