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Judge: Microsoft Shouldn't Expect Reverse Decision

Microsoft's steps to appeal the antitrust verdict handed down Monday are unlikely to result in the ruling being overturned, according to a former U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge.

Robert Bork, best known for his consideration for the Supreme Court during the Reagan administration, handed down his own opinion on the issue, stating that Microsoft's (MSFT) chances of getting the decision reversed are slim. The case against the giant computer firm is too great to warrant a reverse decision, he explained.

"Even if the Court of Appeals disagreed with Judge Jackson on the Section 1 tying claim, it would have almost no impact on the case. The important point is that this is a violation of Section 2 -- monopolization and attempted monopolization," Bork said in a press conference this week.

In a ruling issued late Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson wrote Microsoft used its monopoly power to block rivals from marketing their own operating systems or emerging technologies, such as Java, that threatened Microsoft's market dominance. He also said Microsoft violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by unlawfully linking Internet Explorer to Windows.

Bork went on to say that the software industry is like any other that faces monopoly issues, and that the litigation is a better alternative to government regulations of the industry.

"Without antitrust law, the only thing that would control unbridled monopolization in the software industry would be government regulation," he said. "Antitrust enforcement is clearly preferable to regulation. In this case all the court did was apply conventional antitrust principles to a new industry."

Bork did not recommend a solution, but did point out that shareholders have benefited from other breakups resulting from antitrust enforcement.

"Maybe Microsoft shareholders should be rooting for the government at this point," he said.

In a case that is anything but typical, Microsoft's appeal may skip the appellate court entirely and head directly for the U.S. Supreme Court, according to published reports. Judge Jackson said that in order to speed up the judicial process, he may suggest bypassing an appellate court to speed resolution of the case. That could bring the case to the Supreme Court by the summer.



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