WASHINGTON — By filing a brief in response to the Microsoft appeal, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and 19 states’ attorneys general signaled their willingness to waste limited taxpayer dollars prosecuting a company that has provided measurable benefits to consumers. During the trial, the plaintiffs did not demonstrate evidence of consumer harm. Even the presiding judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, later admitted “virtually everything” he did as judge in the Microsoft antitrust case “may be vulnerable on appeal.”
Erick Gustafson, Director of CSE’s Center for Consumer Choice issued the following statement today: “It is tragic that the DOJ and 19 states continue to spend taxpayer funds on such a baseless case. It has now been nearly three years since the case began, and there is no end in sight. So far the DOJ has spent nearly $50 million, while Microsoft’s value dropped more than 50 percent. Continued prosecution of the company can only lead to more disastrous consequences. The world of software has changed since 1998 and only government lawyers hold fast to antiquated regulatory initiatives.
“As Judge Jackson wrote in his findings of fact and as today’s government brief explicitly acknowledges, Microsoft’s actions ‘contributed to improving the quality of Web browsing software, lowering its cost, and increasing its availability, thereby benefiting (sic) consumers.’ His decision to punish such consumer benefit can be explained by his recent statements demeaning Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. When coupled with his admission of vulnerability on appeal, it becomes clear that Jackson was less interested in acting as an independent administer of justice as he was looking to settle a personal score. And in the face of such facts, the government wishes to continue on: incredible!
“Worse, as if this case weren’t a media circus already, we now have a hopelessly transparent attempt from Hollywood to demonize Microsoft. I’m looking forward to seeing Antitrust or “Wag the Nerd.” Is it true that Wilfred Brimley plays Judge Jackson: the intransigent judge personally pitted against Tim Robbins’ Gates-character, Gary Winston? I don’t believe it is possible for Jackson to NOT be bias against Microsoft. How anyone who has read his comments reported in the news could believe such a thing is beyond my comprehension.
“It is truly time for the government to end its crusade against Microsoft. It has become a parody of itself. The filing is anemic, it offers nothing new. Events and technological progress have overtaken the relevance of the case. Further, continued prosecution threatens an already shaky national economic situation.”
Erick Gustafson is available for comment.