Microsoft loses bid for IBM documents in antitrust case

Microsoft Corp. failed in its bid to subpoena communicationsfrom IBM Corp. relating to an antitrust case against Microsoft inthe European Union, when a U.S. District Court judge in New Yorkquashed Microsoft’s request on Thursday.

In an attempt to substantiate its allegations that the EuropeanCommission colluded with its rivals over enforcement of theantitrust ruling, Microsoft had asked U.S. courts in Massachusetts,California and New York to order IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc., NovellInc. and Oracle Corp. to hand over details of their communicationswith the Commission and with the monitoring trustee for the case.All three courts have now rejected Microsoft’s requests.

Starting Monday, Microsoft will begin its appeal against the2004 antitrust ruling at the European Court of First Instance inLuxembourg. The hearing runs through next Friday.

In 2004, the Commission found Microsoft guilty of abusing itsdominance in the operating system market for desktop computersystems, and ordered the company to provide details of thecommunications protocols used by its workgroup server software,among other remedies. The Commission appointed a monitoring trustee– selected from a list proposed by Microsoft — to evaluate thecompany’s compliance with the ruling. His responsibilities includeconsulting with Microsoft’s competitors to gauge the effects of theremedies on the market.

In March, Microsoft accused the Commission and the monitoringtrustee of colluding with its rivals and sought to obtain detailsof their communications from the Commission.

Frustrated by the Commission’s refusal on the grounds that itsprocedural rules made such communications secret, Microsoft soughtto obtain the documents from the U.S. offices of the companiesconcerned.

Judge Colleen McMahon issued an opinion Thursday quashing therequest for IBM’s documents, confirmed Tom Brookes, a spokesman forMicrosoft in Europe.

A California court rejected Microsoft’s request for Sun andOracle documents last month, and on Monday another court inMassachusetts quashed its attempt to subpoena communications fromNovell.

Microsoft has decided not to pursue the California case further.”The writing was clearly on the wall. They’re not going to bepursued further,” said Brookes.

“Things have moved on in Brussels, and some of the clarificationthat Microsoft was seeking [from the monitoring trustee] we havereceived,” he said.

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