Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Friday, November 1, 2002.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Comment on the U.S. District Court
Microsoft Opinions Issued Today
Statement of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
November 1, 2002

Today the court approved the settlement between Microsoft and the Department of Justice -- but the court took the unusual step, at the request of nine states and the District of Columbia which had not joined the settlement, of bolstering the relief obtained by the Department of Justice. The court added important enforcement provisions, tightened language in the proposed settlement, and strengthened the anti-retaliation provisions in the original decree.

First: Any remedy scheme is only as good as its compliance regime. As requested by the states, the court established a Compliance Committee to assure that Microsoft abides by its obligations under the decree. The Compliance Committee will consist of three members of Microsoft's Board of Directors who are neither present nor former employees of the company. Thus, the court has made compliance the personal responsibility of Microsoft's highest ranking independent directors with authority over Microsoft's executives. The court also ordered that a Compliance Officer, to be hired by the Compliance Committee, must personally certify on an annual basis that Microsoft is "fully compliant" with the judgment. The court took the additional significant step of directing the Compliance Officer to promptly report any credible evidence of violations to the State Attorneys General, so they can take whatever enforcement measures are warranted.

Second: The court also recognized that the original settlement agreement was insufficient to give PC makers the freedom to offer consumers non-Microsoft software that might be attractive to them. The court closed several loopholes in the proposed decree so that PC makers are now free to provide consumers with the best available products, whether or not made by Microsoft. These changes enhance consumer choice, level the competitive playing, and encourage the development of innovative products.

Third: At the states' request, the court also made significant changes in the settlement agreement that will limit Microsoft's ability to abuse its enormous monopoly power as it has done in the past. In particular, Microsoft is prohibited not just from retaliating against others in the industry who refuse to do its bidding, but cannot even threaten to do so. As the court said, even threats of retaliation, although not actually implemented by Microsoft, have the capacity "to chill support for competing products." In adopting language proposed by the states, the court has assured that Microsoft will no longer be able to make such threats.

The states are pleased that their efforts have led to a substantially strengthened judgment with an enhanced enforcement mechanism. Accountability for lawful conduct is now the direct responsibility of Microsoft's Board of Directors. The additional provisions the court has adopted at the states' request will expand consumer choice, encourage competition in this important area of commerce, and foster the development and distribution of innovative new software.

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