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Requests in Anti-Trust Case

BY Dan Richman
by Dan Richman on 10/3/00.

Microsoft Corp. yesterday asked the court hearing its antitrust appeal for a five-month briefing period, also requesting four times the legal limit for its two appellate briefs.

Microsoft wants the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to let it write 56,000 words in its principal brief, which the company proposed to submit within 60 days. Federal rules limit principal briefs to 14,000 words. The Justice Department's brief would be due 60 days later. Then Microsoft would get an additional month to reply, in a brief of 28,000 words - again, four times larger than allowed.

Microsoft cited the case's "magnitude and complexity" to justify its requests, noting that the company's "very corporate survival is at issue."

The requests came in a briefing schedule Microsoft submitted in response to a Sept. 26 order by the appeals court. If the court accepts Microsoft's schedule, oral arguments would begin in March.

But the Justice Department is due to file its own proposed schedule Thursday. Microsoft gets a final request on scheduling next Tuesday.

"Microsoft's proposal would unnecessarily delay proceedings and postpone resolution of the appeal," Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Tallamona said.

University of Baltimore law Professor Bob Lande predicted that "the government will come back with a short schedule, and the court will give them something in between."

Candidates for attorney general in North Carolina - one of the 19 states supporting the antitrust suit against Microsoft - have pledged to reconsider the state's commitment to the case. They did so in response to a request by North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy, a lobbying group to which Microsoft contributes.

Tom Miller, the Iowa attorney general coordinating the states' case, said North Carolina's withdrawal wouldn't affect the outcome.

"There's such a large core of states, and we're in such a strong position," he said.

Microsoft closed down $1.19 at $59.13, falling another 9 cents in after-hours trading.