Justice Dept. Accused of 'Pursuing Personal Vendetta' Against Microsoft

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The Justice Department's latest filing of a 150 page brief in federal court in Washington against Microsoft has sparked criticism from Citizens Against Government Waste, a government watchdog group. CAGW thinks the federal government should end its "wasteful and unnecessary" case against Microsoft.

The Clinton Justice Department is defending the original verdict in the case, issued last June by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that ordered Microsoft to split itself into two companies. Microsoft is appealing Jackson's verdict.

"With a staggering economy and rapidly weakening technology sector, the folly of the original Microsoft suit should now be evident to all. Instead of celebrating those individuals and corporations responsible for remaking and adding trillions of dollars in new value to the economy, the current players in Washington seem more intent on pursuing personal vendettas than the common good," CAGW President Thomas Schatz said in a statement.

Schatz also noted that while the Justice Department calls for the breakup of Microsoft, the Federal Trade Commission approved the merger of AOL and Time Warner in the same week.

However, Schatz is hoping that things will turn around for Microsoft.

"Hopefully, help is on the way from the incoming administration, which is on the record as favoring innovation, not regulation. This nation's most productive and creative businesses should be focused on creating new jobs and wealth, not distracted by junk lawsuits. It's time to end this case once and for all and to prevent similar debacles in the future," Schatz said.

CAGW estimates that at least $45 million has been spent to date on the Microsoft case by federal and state governments.

"Taxpayers, consumers and investors could have saved a lot of money if this matter had been settled in fair marketplace competition. Regardless of the Justice Department's and (Federal) Judge (Thomas Penfield) Jackson's enmity, the free enterprise system will eventually decide Microsoft's fate," Schatz concluded.

The Justice Department along with 19 states that brought the antitrust case against Microsoft urged a federal appeals court in Washington to uphold Judge Jackson's order to split the software giant in two in order to prevent future antitrust violations.

In the latest appeal, the Justice Department said the Microsoft matter was "a classic case of monopolization" in which market dominance was used to sustain or extend that power.

"The district court acted properly in imposing the structural and conduct remedy for Microsoft's wide range course of illegal actions," according to the Justice Department brief.

Microsoft insists that the judge and the trial were not fair and that the ruling should be reversed.

Oral arguments in the appeal are scheduled for Federal Court in Washington on February 26th and 27th.