MICROSOFT asked court to rehear bundling issue

Wednesday, July 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Seattle-AP) -- Microsoft has asked the U-S Court of Appeals to grant a rehearing on whether the company illegally bundled code for Web browsing software with that of its dominant Windows desktop operating system.

Microsoft says the Justice Department's witnesses, in its antitrust case, did not back up its assertion that it used the same software to do different things in order to further its operating system monopoly.

Microsoft spokesman Vivek Varma says the petition was an attempt to seek clarification. He says it should not be read as an unwillingness to settle the antitrust case out of court.

Three weeks ago, the U-S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that Microsoft had operated as an illegal monopoly and harmed consumers. But the court reversed the trial judge's order breaking up the company, and sent the case back to a different lower court judge to decide a new penalty.

After the ruling, either side has the option of asking the appeals court to reconsider parts of the decision, appeal the entire ruling to the Supreme Court, settle, or go back to a lower court.

Last week, the Justice Department moved to speed up the antitrust case, asking an appeals court to end the current phase and immediately send it back to a lower court to decide whether the software maker should be broken up.