Microsoft says EU may merge antitrust cases.

  07/31/2001 9:21:15 PM MDT Albuquerque, Nm
  By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO

The European Commission has 2 current cases of antitrust open against Microsoft, they may be merged.
  Microsoft said, "A good possibility" that the European Commission (EC) will merge its two antitrust investigations into Microsoft's Windows operating systems, John Frank, the company's senior corporate attorney, said Tuesday.

  In the first case, Sun Microsystems filed the complaint in 1998, alleging that Microsoft was using its Windows operating system software to muscle rivals out of the market for server software.

  Early last year, the EC launched a separate investigation on its own initiative to see if Microsoft was doing the same thing with the then-latest version of its operating system, Windows 2000.

  Starting last summer, the EC opened legal proceedings against Microsoft in the first case, and the company requested a hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. The EC is expected to take a similar step in the second case in the coming months.

  Frank said that if the cases were to be merged, the EC would either revise the existing statement of objections to include its concerns about Windows 2000 or it would issue a second statement of objections and then consolidate the two.

  Microsoft would then have 60 days in which to submit a written response to the new objections. After that, a hearing covering all objections could be organized, Frank said.

  Michael Tscherny, the EC spokesman on competition issues, said that merging the cases "remains a possibility," but he added that there won't be any developments until after the August recess.

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