The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has dismissed calls by Microsoft to drop the antitrust case against it in the wake of America Online?s acquisition of Netscape.
Big Green has said it will move for a summary judgement as soon as the DoJ finishes presenting its case and is trying to make the most of the alignment between Sun, Netscape and America Online - three of its key rivals.
Microsoft contends that the acquisition proves it does not have a monopoly hold over the PC market.
"This deal proves that the competitive landscape of this high-tech industry, of which Microsoft is a part, can change dramatically overnight. The government should drop this case and stop wasting taxpayers dollars, and let the industry compete in the marketplace with technology and customer service," said William Neukom, Microsoft?s general counsel.
He compared the current antitrust trial with the one brought against IBM in the 1970s, saying that by the time that one was dropped, Microsoft was already emerging as the new market leader.
But DoJ spokespeople have said there is no chance the government body will drop its charges, arguing that the purchase simply proved Netscape was no longer able to survive as an independent company.
Netscape?s fate is important to the case because one of the key accusations against Microsoft is that it used its monopoly power to lock the browser supplier out of the market.
But, a decision might be a while coming because the DoJ may not finish presenting its case for as much as another six weeks.
Microsoft is currently cross-examining Frederick Warren-Boulton, its seventh government witness in six weeks, with five more scheduled government witnesses to follow. The DOJ also has the right to call two others to the bench.
While it appears unlikely that the Netscape acquisition will cause Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to dismiss the case, or even allow it to influence his decision as to whether Microsoft broke antitrust law, some legal experts are suggesting that if Big Green is found guilty, the Court may now be less inclined to impose a radical solution such as breaking up the company.
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