Microsoft has submitted its first filing in the appeals phase of its antitrust trial, asking the U.S. District Court of Appeals to delay the trial for months so that it could mount an appropriate defensive and provide an effective rebuttal to the government's charges. Microsoft requested 60 days to prepare its initial defense brief, and then another 60 for the government to file its own brief. Then, Microsoft says, it will need an additional 30 days to respond to the government. This places the earliest possible court date in March 2001, but the time is necessary, according to Microsoft, because of the "magnitude and complexity \[of this case\], in which Microsoft's very corporate survival is at issue." The Department of Justice (DOJ) says that Microsoft is simply delaying the matter unnecessarily.
"The scope of this case is monumental," Microsoft's filing reads. "The district court’s many errors compel Microsoft to address a wide range of legal and factual issues on appeal. Microsoft also will have to devote considerable attention to the \[breakup plan\], which is truly radical. Besides ordering that the company be broken in two, the district court imposed draconian 'conduct' relief that extends far beyond the case that was tried and that implicates a large number of technologically complicated subjects. Included among that 'conduct' relief is a requirement that Microsoft disclose the internal workings of its copyrighted operating systems to its direct competitors."
Microsoft was found guilty of violating U.S. antitrust laws this spring and was subsequently ordered to be broken into two companies by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. But Jackson stayed his ruling until Microsoft exhausted its appeals process.
The DOJ will file its proposed schedule on October 5, and then Microsoft can respond by the 10th. The government is likely to ask for a more speedy appellate process. "Microsoft's proposal would unnecessarily delay proceedings and postpone resolution of the appeal," a DOJ spokesperson said