Microsoft has scored a victory in its fight to avoid its antitrust case appeal being heard in the US Supreme Court.
The court said on Tuesday that it would not hear the case and that it had sent it back to a lower court - the US Court of Appeals - where Microsoft feels it has a better chance of winning.
Microsoft had argued that its case was too time consuming to be dealt with by the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country. "The sheer number of issues raised by Microsoft's appeals makes this case completely unsuitable for direct appeal," the company said in a brief filed last month.
The news came as a blow to the US government, which had asked the Supreme Court to take on the case. In addition, hearings in the Court of Appeals have previously overturned rulings against Microsoft, finding in the software giant's favour on two occasions.
In a US TV interview, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said the company was pleased with the decision. "We are excited to have our chance to present our view of the situation to the appellate court," he said.
In April, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson found that Microsoft had a monopoly with Windows and had abused that monopoly in contravention of US antitrust laws. He ordered that the company be split into two, but later suspended the ruling until the end of the appeals process.
Despite today's decision, the appeal is not expected to be heard before next spring.
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