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Microsoft foes urge antitrust punishment

Two more groups join an effort to overturn the landmark antitrust settlement that a federal judge approved in November.

Two more Microsoft foes have joined an effort to overturn the landmark antitrust settlement that a federal judge approved in November.

In court documents released Thursday, the Consumers for Computing Choice and the Open Platform Working Group asked for permission to intervene in the case so they could appeal the settlement between Microsoft and the U.S. Justice Department.

The groups are hoping to persuade the courts to impose additional sanctions on Microsoft. Because U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approved the settlement, saying after weeks of hearings that it benefited consumers, the deal will become final unless an appeals court can be convinced to modify it.

Robert Lande, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who specializes in antitrust, said he was puzzled by the groups' attempts to intervene in the case. "You've got to have cognizable harm in order to have standing to appeal something," Lande said. "I can't even guess as to their theory."

In December, two ardent Microsoft foes funded by competitors such as Sun Microsystems and Oracle--the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Software and Information Industry Association--began a similar attempt to inject themselves into the case to appeal Kollar-Kotelly's decision. Under the Tunney Act, a federal judge must determine that such an antitrust settlement is "in the public interest."

During the Tunney Act proceedings, the Consumers for Computing Choice and Open Platform Working Group unsuccessfully urged the judge to reject the proposed deal. They suggested mandatory licenses to port Microsoft Office to other operating systems, a special master to monitor Microsoft's compliance, and a longer duration of court-required oversight.