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Microsoft Antitrust Case Heard by U.S. Appeals Court

Aired February 26, 2001 - 1:54 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Microsoft and the government are going another round in court today. The computer giant is fighting the order that splits the company in half. At issue: the old question of whether Microsoft unfairly tried to elbow out its competitor, Netscape. CNN's Jeanne Meserve is in Washington, she is still watching the story.

Jeanne, what have you got?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN WASHINGTON: Lou, it was a lively morning in U.S. appeals court here in the District of Columbia, with seven judges hurling questions one right after another at judges for -- excuse me, at attorneys for both the U.S. government and for Microsoft.

What is being appealed here is the ruling by District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, which split Microsoft in two. He found that Microsoft held a monopoly over operating systems for personal computers and had used its power to squelch the competition.

There were hints from the court today that there would not be a total reversal of that ruling, and in fact, one judge said as much from the bench, but what many analysts do expect is that part of that ruling could be remanded to a lower court to be reworked, and that could open the door to settlements.

Another contributing factor: we now have a Bush Justice Department, as opposed to a Clinton administration and Justice Department. The Bush administration has nothing invested, of course, in the prosecution of Microsoft.

This morning, Microsoft contended in court that it had not attempted to stifle the competition. The government made the contrary case, that in fact, it had. One observer in the courtroom was Steve Delbianco, of The Association for Competitive Technology, here's how he assessed what he saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE DELBIANCO, ASSOCIATION FOR COMPETITIVE TECHNOLOGY: What I saw today was the entire panel of judges seems impatient and aggravated that the government has brought into this case a real competitive dog fight. They have to wonder, as we wonder, why when competitors decide to duke it out for the next monopoly, no one asks questions about consumer benefits or consumer harm. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: Most of today's questions and answers had to do with the specifics of antitrust law and how that relates to computer technology.

Coming under scrutiny tomorrow will be Judge Jackson, the one who issued on that ruling calling for Microsoft to be split in two. He has made some very derogatory comments about Microsoft founder Bill Gates, also about the Microsoft legal team and about the appeals court. The judges will be looking at all of that.

Lou, back to you.

WATERS: OK. Jeanne Meserve in Washington.

Arguments in this Microsoft appeal can be heard in their entirety with streaming audio on cnn.com. AOL keyword: "CNN."

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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