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July 3, 2007

Google keeps pushing for more Microsoft oversight

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 9:14 AM

Google filed another brief Monday with the court overseeing Microsoft's antitrust settlement with the federal government. The company, in a response to a counter-argument filed by Microsoft last week, is forwarding its position that it should be granted status in the case to argue for an extension of oversight of Microsoft, which is set to expire later this year.

During a hearing on the antitrust settlement last week, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly indicated in comments from the bench that she would not grant Google status in the case, as has been her practice with other third parties in the past. She has yet to formally rule, however. A full transcript of the status conference is scheduled to be released later today. (Update: Turns out that transcript may not arrive until Thursday.)

In a five-page brief filed yesterday (PDF), Google renewed its arguments for why it should be allowed to participate. The company first raised its complaint about desktop search, which it contends limits competition and violates terms of the consent decree, last year. At that time, Google complained to the Department of Justice rather than addressing the matter through the court directly.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft, the Department of Justice and the state attorneys general charged with enforcing the antitrust settlement reached an agreement on changes to the desktop search software meant to address those complaints. Google was unsatisifed and pushed for additional changes in Vista as well as an extension of the court's oversight of Microsoft.

In yesterday's filing, Google told the judge, who was waiting for this formal response to Microsoft's counter-argument before she issues her ruling, that it "offers an important and useful perspective":

As the developer of a major desktop search product and the company that brought the desktop search issue to the attention of the plaintiffs, Google has familiarity with the issues raised and is well positioned to provide information to the Court. Google worked with the plaintiffs for an extended period of time to ensure that Microsoft's violation did not go unaddressed, and nothing in Google's request for leave to participate as amicus curiae is inconsistent with the plaintiffs' fundamental role in enforcing the Final Judgment, as confirmed by the fact that none of the plaintiffs opposes Google's motion.

Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said the company has "already responded to [Google's] amicus request. Our filing is our response." Here's that filing, (seven pages, PDF).

See this story for additional background on desktop search and how Google's complaint unfolded.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
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Kristi Heim
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Benjamin J. Romano
Benjamin J. Romano
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Mark Watanabe
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