Microsoft won a small but significant victory in its ongoinghould not act as special adviser to judge in MS case. antitrust battle with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), when an appeals court in Washington temporarily granted the vendor's request that a Harvard law professor should not act as special adviser to the judge overseeing the case in a lower court.
The software giant claimed that Lawrence Lessig, appointed by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in December 1997, harbours a bias against Microsoft.
It also claimed that Jackson's decision was irregular because Microsoft had not been consulted prior to the appointment.
The allegations against Lessig stemmed from evidence that the professor sent a number of anti-MS emails to Netscape lawyers last year and also participated in a Harvard legal forum entitled, Should Microsoft be allowed to swallow the Net?
The decision by the appellate court - the equivalent of the High Court of Appeals in the UK - was a strong sign that Lessig will be permanently barred as special adviser and indicated that legal opinion was swinging in MS' favour.
A permanent ruling will be made on 21 April when the District Court will also make a final decision on the legality of MS' bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows 95.
Meanwhile, in a separate action, 11 US states have subpoenaed MS documents about the Windows 98 OS, which is due for release this year. The states are working with the DoJ to determine whether the new OS, which fully integrates IE into the user interface but is not included in the present judicial investigation, represents a potential violation of antitrust laws.
MS pointed out that none of the 11 states have actually filed a suit against the vendor.
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