Netscape Knocked Off During First Trial Phase, Oracle Will Take Longer

Washington, D.C. (SatireWire) – A federal appeals court Thursday reversed the Microsoft breakup and sent the case back to a lower court, ruling that the software giant violated antitrust laws, but should be given more time to eliminate competitors and render those violations moot.

“Since this case began, the courts have stood by and watched Microsoft take the browser market from Netscape Navigator, thereby disqualifying that complaint,” wrote chief Judge Harry Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. “But if we let this case drag on at least until Windows XP is launched in October, there are still many other competitors that the company can squeeze out.”

In Redmond, Microsoft executives said they had not read the full 125-page decision, but were cautiously optimistic.

“Obviously, our lawyers need to pore over the documents, but it would appear that this decision will give us adequate time to get rid of Real Networks, EarthLink, and maybe Oracle,” said Microsoft spokesman James Blent. “For AOL, we’re going to need at least until 2003 to kill their instant messenger stuff, and 2005 to undercut the online subscriber base.”

In a rare reprimand of a fellow jurist, the appeals court also cited ex parte comments made by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson as another reason to vacate the verdict. Jackson, who initially ruled on the breakup, made several negative comments about Microsoft and its executives during the trial.

“It is inappropriate for judges to engage in personal attacks, and Judge Jackson has got to be some kind of moron for doing so,” wrote Edwards. “The public cannot be expected to maintain confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the federal judiciary in the face of such conduct, and I will tell (Microsoft Chairman) Bill Gates that when we play golf this weekend.”

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