Bill Gates is too busy to appear at a US government hearing to help determine its policy on software competition. Senate judiciary committee chairman, Orrin Hatch, has called a hearing on 3 March, and invited the Microsoft CEO, along with Jim Barksdale, CEO of Netscape, and Sun CEO Scott McNealy, to testify. Barksdale has agreed to attend, McNealy has yet to confirm, and Gates has turned down the offer, pleading "prior arrangements". The hearing will "provide an important step in our consideration of how anti-trust policy could best serve consumers and software industry generally," said Hatch. The committee will examine how best to apply anti-trust policy to the software industry, and the Net. Meanwhile, Microsoft faces another lawsuit - at the hands of retired IBM patent attorney Martin Reiffin, who alleges the software giant has infringed his patents on preemptive multi-threading. Reiffin's patents, which he registered in December, cover the process by which multiple operations are executed simultaneously by a single program - something virtually all Microsoft programs do. He alleges that any program using multi-threading is in breach of his patents and should be licensed by him.
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