The two US states that are still appealing the sentencing decision in the Microsoft antitrust trial have asked Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to order the software giant to pay their legal expenses. Microsoft previously contacted the nonsettling states and informed them that it would pay legal expenses for any states that chose not to appeal the sentencing. However, Massachusetts and West Virginia did appeal, and now they want to be reimbursed for more than $2 million in legal expenses. The states approached the judge after Microsoft told them that it wasn't interested in covering those expenses.

"This is money these two states would have received had they not decided to pursue an appeal," Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said yesterday. "Maybe we'll see whether this is an issue the court needs to resolve." Maybe we will. But Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly has also asked Judge Kollar-Kotelly not to make a decision until after the appeal is finished because the outcome of that appeal could significantly increase the states' fees and expenses.

Ultimately, whether Microsoft is required to pay the states' legal fees is up to Judge Kollar-Kotelly. Massachusetts says it has paid more than $2.05 million in fees; West Virginia has paid about $271,000.