US government wants quick Supreme Court ruling on Microsoft

Out-Law News | 16 Aug 2000 | 12:00 am |

The US Department of Justice yesterday asked the Supreme Court to quickly hear arguments on whether Microsoft should be broken up in the latest development of the antitrust case.

The government argued that allowing the case to be first heard by a lower appeals court first could “irreparably harm competition in a vital and rapidly evolving sector of the national economy,” arguing that the case should be resolved as soon as possible because Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson had delayed the imposition of penalties following his finding that the company had abused its dominant position in the personal computer operating system market. These penalties included breaking up Microsoft into two separate companies and imposing strict controls on its business practices.

The government estimates that taking the case directly to the Supreme Court would shorten the resolution of the case by at least one year.

In July, Microsoft made a request for a lower federal appeals court to hear the next instalment of the case which has ruled in its favour in the past. Microsoft argued that “the importance of these cases will not lie in how quickly they are resolved but in their long-term effects on consumers and this nation’s economy.”

The appeals court has expressed its willingness to hear the case, but the Supreme Court has the prerogative. Its decision is expected next month.