immediate release - Friday, November 1, 2002.
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
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
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