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Belief Spreading That Gates Is Covertly Angling for Breakup

WASHINGTON, D.C. ( — Does Bill Gates secretly know what he's doing? Does Microsoft actually want to be broken up? That's the latest buzz in the Justice Department, where more than 70 companies have so far filed papers demanding that they, too, be declared monopolies.

Although Microsoft itself has recently advertised strong opposition to the breakup, other executives clearly aren't buying it. Yesterday alone, the Justice Department received email or fax confessions from 42 firms eager to jump aboard what is already being called the "monopoly gravy train."

Companies that have filed to be monopolies

"Look, Bill Gates has built one of the most profitable companies ever, and you're trying to tell me he's suddenly so inept that he'd let the government take his profits away?" said Rob Glazer, CEO of rival software firm RealNetworks. "I used to work at Microsoft. I know the guy. If Gates wants to be declared a monopoly, then we want to be declared a monopoly."

Another monopoly-wannabe is Apple Computer, whose CEO, Steve Jobs, spent much of a post-filing press conference yesterday trying to convince skeptics his company has been maliciously anti-competitive.

"We're a monopoly, big time," Jobs declared. "We have something like 100 percent of the market for Apple products, we control what is included with the Apple OS (operating system), and we pressure our distributors and resellers to include the Apple OS with each Apple computer they sell."

But, Jobs was asked, don't Apple computers have to run the Apple OS?

"Whoa, nailed again," he said.

However, not only Microsoft competitors are lining up to confess. In its filing, insisted it deserved a "good federal spanking" for passing. as the most popular sports site. And even small, regional companies are pleading no contest.

"If you look at our business, we essentially have a stranglehold on the billboard market along Interstate 85 from exit 62 to exit 74," said Josh Gibson of Hi-Way Signage in Charlotte, N.C. "We own, like, 29 of the 33 billboards on that stretch, and we effectively deter new competition from gaining market share by participating in a variety of anti-competitive practices."

Among those practices, said Gibson: throwing rocks at the billboard lights, and bad-mouthing the glue competitors use.

"We are ruthless bastards and need to be stopped," added Gibson, who warned Hi-Way Signage could "waltz right into" the Greensboro market if left unsupervised.


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