Oversight sought of Microsoft case

October 20, 2007|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun reporter

Maryland has joined nine other states and the District of Columbia in asking a federal court for a five-year extension of its oversight of Microsoft Corp., which began in 2002 as part of a landmark antitrust settlement and is set to expire next month.

In a filing late Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Maryland and the other states - California, New York, Louisiana, Florida, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Massachusetts - called Microsoft "an entrenched monopolist" and said more oversight was needed for market challengers to gain competitive footing.

After multiple states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft in 1998, the company was found to have illegally maintained a monopoly and ordered to refrain from certain anti-competitive behavior and remain under court supervision through mid-November of this year.

But the complaining states say too little time has passed for competitors to develop a foothold in the operating system market. Microsoft, this week's filing noted, has more than 90 percent of that market share.

In a statement, Microsoft spokesman David Bowermaster said the original consent decree has already served its purpose.

"Microsoft has worked hard to implement the decree's requirements and has changed its practices as a result. We also have committed to a broad set of operating principles going forward that go beyond the scope of the decree," Bowermaster said.

A conference call among the parties has been scheduled for next week.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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