Justice seeks $1 million a day contempt fine against Microsoft
October 20, 1997
Web posted at: 1:29 p.m. EDT (1729 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department asked a federal court Monday to hold the computer software giant Microsoft Corp. in contempt for requiring personal computer manufacturers to license and distribute its Internet browser.
The department said the company violated a 1995 court order the government obtained to bar the company from anticompetitive licensing practices. The government sought a $1 million a day fine.
"Microsoft is unlawfully taking advantage of its Windows
monopoly to protect and extend that monopoly," Attorney General Janet Reno told reporters.
"This is a very serious abuse," said Assistant Attorney General Joel I. Klein, head of the antitrust division. He said Microsoft's action was designed to undermine the dominant market position of its major competitor for Internet browsers, Netscape.
Internet browsers are important, Klein said, because they "could erode Microsoft's operating system monopoly" in the Windows operating system. "This kind of product forcing is an abuse of monopoly power and we seek to put an end to it."
Klein emphasized that the Justice Department is still investigating other practices by Microsoft but declined to give details.
The Justice Department objected to Microsoft's requirement that computer manufacturers who want to license the Windows 95 operating system also license its internet browser, known as Internet Explorer. Most personal computer makers install Windows 95 at the factory.
Klein said, "These are two different products." He said they should be sold as two separate products, but he adamantly said the government was not taking sides in the war for browser market share between Microsoft and Netscape, whose browser is known as Navigator, or any other company.
"Each of Microsoft's products should compete on its own
merits," Klein said.
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